This past week the new Microsoft ad, “Lauren Get’s an HP Pavilion” has consistently come up in conversation.
Is the ad telling the truth?
Yes! It absolutely is true. PCs are much cheaper than comparable Macs under almost all circumstances.
The question of truth unfortunately isn’t the important part of the ad. Sadly for Microsoft it is an excruciatingly shortsighted and ill-conceived TV spot. Let’s parse out this ad’s message:
- Apple is the stick with which the industry measures against.
- Apples are expensive.
- You can’t afford an Apple.
- PCs can be powerful.
- PCs are cheap.
- You can afford a PC.
By kicking off the ad with Lauren trying to buy an Apple it states very clearly that a Mac was her first choice. She went to get a PC when she couldn’t afford her first choice.
Flash forward to the Best Buy-ish store.
Lauren shouts out some easily digestible specs that she wants, and the PCs can meet he expectations for well under her budget of $1000… in fact, she bought if for $699.99 – This section of the ad has two BIG problems.
First, Microsoft sells software and a user-experience, not necessarily a good one, but a user-experience nonetheless. They don’t sell hardware. In spite whatever Microsoft believes, the biggest draw of an Apple is the user-experience, not the pretty hardware (there are some very pretty PCs out there). As Lauren points out, they have comparable hardware. The ad never deals with Windows Vista’s inferior user-experience. At least the Mojave Experiment ads did that!
The second problem with this section of the ad is the price-point. Microsoft doesn’t sell PCs but their partners do. The profit margin on a $700 laptop isn’t usually amazing. They set Lauren’s budget at $1000, why not have her spend $950? or $990? The ad lowers the expectation for what consumers will expect to pay. If Lauren could get a “great” computer for $699.99 then that’s what a PC should cost.
This ad also degrades the value of a PC. Apple is now officially the gold-standard… Microsoft said so in its own ad. Microsoft has made Apple the BMW of computer makers (if they weren’t considered that already there is no debate now). PCs are the computer you buy when times are rough… like now. But in the future, the economy won’t be in the dumps (hopefully sooner than later). Then people will have money again. When they replace the cheap POS of a PC they bought during the recession, they are going to want to replace it with something better. Something top of the line… and now we all know that PCs are the cheap computer.
Bad move Microsoft.