controversy

Mac Fans Freak Out Over Microsoft’s “Lauren” Ad

by Joey deVilla on March 29, 2009

The best measure of the effectiveness of the new “Lauren” ad is that it’s driving some thin-skinned Apple fans nuts. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the ad:

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&amp;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7&amp;showPlaylist=true&amp;from=shared" target="_new" title="Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion">Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion</a>

It’s one of the greatest strengths of the Esteemed Competition; as a long-time Mac and iPod user, I know first-hand the Apple experience is a very satisfying one that creates a lot of passionate users. This passion led to more than the usual number of pagehits and comments for my previous post on the “Lauren” ad (not to mention more than the usual amount of AdSense cash – thanks for the beer money, folks!) as well as a number of huffy articles including:

Some thoughts:

“Offensive?” Really? 

That’s the term Ed Oswald used in his article. My response: Oh, come on. Imagine the ridiculousness of someone complaining that Apple’s “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” ads were offensive to Windows users. If all you had were those ads to go by, you’d think that Windows machines were completely non-functional (lies!) and its users were uniformly dull accountant-types (bigotry!). Chill, people – good natured-one-upmanship is part of advertising; heck, it’s part of day-to-day life. If this ad is offensive, I suggest you stay indoors, because you’re not going to like the outside world.

Bob Caswell put it best in this article:

That’s how commercials work, you see. By and large, Apple and Microsoft are playing the same game. A game that Apple started, I might add. And kudos to Apple for starting it; it seems to have worked well for them.

But now that a strong response is out by Microsoft (a separate tangential conversation is whether Microsoft should be throwing so much money at a “response” campaign; that’s debatable), the Apple fanboys are restless (this topic was at the top of Techmeme earlier today) and feel the need to point out the “offense,” “pointlessness,” and “inaccuracies.

Wow. Talk about a classic case of dishing out but not being able to take it.

“But Lauren’s an actress!”

It still doesn’t mean that she’s not someone that the ad agency found through Craigslist, nor does it affect the credibility of the story within the ad. I might as well say “But John Hodgman and Justin Long are actors! They aren’t really computers!”

As I’ve said before, Los Angeles is packed to the rafters with pretty women, whom when you ask them what they do will tell you that they do something that pays the rent and that they also act. Yes, Lauren’s an actress, but she pays the rent with an office manager job. It’s a career path that’s common enough that they make fridge magnets like this:

"Actress" fridge magnet, featuring a picture of a waitress

Contrast this with John “I’m a PC” Hodgman, who pays the bills with his paycheques from Apple, Battlestar Galactica and the Daily Show (there’s also his book deal, but making money off books is a tricky thing) and Justin “I’m a Mac” Long, who pays the bills with his paycheques from Apple, Live Free or Die Hard, Zack and Miri, Pineapple Express and both Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Nobody with any sense dismisses them because they’re actors – they tell a compelling story well, and that’s the important thing.

Apple Doesn’t Need to Have a Monopoly on Good Ideas

That doesn’t mean that the Esteemed Competition doesn’t make excellent stuff – I know from having owned three Mac laptops and a couple of iPods over the past six years.

But Apple’s not the only manufacturer making great stuff and compelling ads, and that’s okay. Some people may not like the idea that the “Lauren” ad exists, just as some people don’t like the fact that a Microsoftie came up with the Coffee and Code idea – and to those people, I’ll remind them of what a smart guy once said:

“We have to let go of the notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose.”

The man who said that? Steve Jobs, back in 1997, when Microsoft made a $150 million investment in Apple.

It’s a big tech world, and there’s room at the table for a lot of people.

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