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March 26, 2009 3:28 PM
Posted by Benjamin J. Romano
Microsoft is rolling out a new Windows commercial today that takes the most direct swipe yet at rival Apple.
The commercial, which feels tuned for these tough economic times, follows a woman on a quest to find a laptop with "speed, comfortable keyboard and a 17-inch screen" for $1,000 or less. "Lauren" walks into an Apple store -- she calls it "the Mac store" -- and then walks out and tells the camera, "For $1,000 they only have one computer available and that's a 13-inch screen." She ends up buying an HP for about $700. Here's the spot, set to air during March Madness:
The ad, presumably one of several in a new chapter of spots called "Laptop Hunters," is the latest in the high-profile Windows campaign from alpha ad shop Crispin Porter + Bogusky. It began last fall with the perplexing "ice breaker" spots featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. A more recent installment in the campaign has focused on how easy it is to perform certain tasks with Windows PCs. These spots, called "The Rookies," feature kids as young as 4 1/2 uploading photos and sending them to friends and family.
The trip to the Apple store and "Lauren's" explanation afterward is one of the more aggressive digs Microsoft has made at Apple in a commercial. The implication, of course, is that Apple's products are more expensive -- and that won't fly in this economy. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer set up the ad nicely with his comments last week:
"Apple gained about one point, but now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction.
"The economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be."
Earlier in the campaign, Microsoft referenced Apple in a series of spots aimed at reclaiming the "PC" brand, which Apple had co-opted with comedian John Hodgman's character in the long-running "Get a Mac" campaign. In Microsoft's commercials, the interaction with Apple seemed more defensive. A Microsoft employee resembling John Hodgman's "PC" character appears on screen and says, "Hello. I'm a PC. And I've been made into a stereotype."