Comparative Advertising: Mac vs. PC

Have you seen the latest Mac VS PC Commercials yet? If you haven’t, you can go to YouTube or watch them directly on the Apple website. In the last few weeks Apple has created several new campaign ads that mock Microsoft’s choice to spend in excess of $300 million (rumored to be up to $500 Million) on an advertising campaign for its Vista operating system rather than to spend that money to fix the issues that PC users have faced with the program.  This type of comparative advertising is legal, and you see it all the time.  A trademark is a limited right and while a trademark is undoubtedly a significant business asset, it is important to remember that simply obtaining a trademark does not entitle the trademark owner to take the trademarked word or phrase out of the world’s vocabulary. Particularly in the United States where we hold the First Amendment above reproach by any laws, there are many legitimate and legal uses of a trademark, and the right to engage in comparative advertising is among one of those legitimate uses.

Returning to the ad campaign itself, the first ad I wish to discuss is that which has been tagged “Bean Counter”. This ad begins with PC sitting at an accountant’s desk with a very large pile of cash symbolizing Vista’s cash budget. In the ad, PC is dividing the cash budget into two piles; one huge pile devoted to Vista’s advertising campaign and a second, tiny pile designated to “fixing” Vista. Mac is perplexed as to how PC is dividing the money and questions “Do you really think that little amount will be enough to fix Vista?” After thinking about this question, PC decides “I guess you’re right, I’ll just put it all into advertising” and moves all of the money into one large pile.

A second commercial shows PC sitting at a table with a “Bake Sale” sign and baked goods on the table. Mac questions PC as to what’s going on. PC tells Mac, “I am trying to raise money to finally fix Vista”. When asked why he is doing this himself, he replies, “Well the marketing guys decided to run a big expensive ad campaign rather than use that money to fix Vista and since my problems don’t seem to be a priority for them I am taking matters into my own hand; a Bake Sale”. Mac says he’d love to help and asks for a cupcake, and of course, after Mac takes a bite, PC tells him “that will be $10 million dollars, now you have to pay me because you had a bite”.

Although these commercials are rather comical, they are sadly true. I have a Microsoft laptop with Microsoft Vista on it myself. Since purchasing this lap top earlier this year, I too have experienced many problems; some of the most bothersome of these being the lack of compatibility Vista has with my all in one printer and all of my software and hardware components and the extraordinarily slow speed of my PC. When I use my laptop, not only do I have to give permission for everything I do, (as is so amusingly demonstrated in Apple’s “Cancel or Allow” security commercial), but they have changed the look and feel of every software application on the system, put nearly everything within those programs in different places, and has caused the speed at which pages and programs load to drastically decreased. Not to mention that NOTHING saved in the Vista format cannot be opened by users still using the XP platform.

I have to ask myself, “Why would a company make a program that is not even compatible with the previous program they had created?” But what has me most confused is that a company of Microsoft’s caliber does not seem to know that in business having the “newest product” does mean you have the “best product”. Rather than spend money on improving Windows XP, a product that was both compatible with previous windows versions and one that was widely excepted by most PC users, they went on to create a “new and “improved” program they called Vista, that has proven to be problematic for most. As the PC VS Mac commercials so appropriately point out, rather than spend much needed funds on improving Vista, making it more user friendly, less susceptible to viruses and compatible with products currently in the market, they have inexplicably opted to spend an exorbitant amount of money on advertising.

Personally, I think the PC VS Mac commercials are right on. The thought that Microsoft would put out a product that requires their users to potentially need to purchase all new software and hardware components for their PCs is rather baffling. The fact that they are willing to budget hundreds of millions of dollars to advertise a product that does not work nearly as well as it should and is not compatible with most software and hardware currently on the market, is almost surreal.


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