Is That Old PC a Lemon? Maybe You Need an Apple.

As the digital age evolves, conversations among friends and colleagues revolve around the technology which guides our daily lives.  Does your company use social media? Do you Tweet? Are you addicted to your phone? And, inevitably, the discussions include the decades-long question: Are you a Mac or a PC?

Technology is increasingly personal.  Mobile phones are personal.  Messages are personal.  This could explain why everything seem to begin with ‘i’.  It is no surprise, then, that marketing campaigns are becoming more personal by making connections with the audience. Smart marketers tell their brand’s story by making the consumer the central character within that story.  Apple’s Get A Mac campaign executed this idea flawlessly.  They made the audience the central character as they told their product’s story. 

The campaign ran for a few years. The stuffy, old-guy “PC” is played by John Hodgman and the hipster “Mac” is played by Justin Long.  Let’s take a closer look at three of the stories they told - all of which centered on the customer. 

This spot begins with the two characters we have come to know and love as “PC” and “Mac” standing in the same place they are always standing – the white oblivion.  “PC” is sneezing and “Mac” asks him what’s wrong. 

“PC”: “I’ve got that virus that’s going around. You better stay back, this one’s a doozy!”
 “Mac”: “That’s okay, I’ll be fine”
“PC”: “No, no. Last year there were 114,000 known viruses for PC’s”
“Mac”: “PCs. But not Macs.”

Then “PC” says he’s crashing and falls over, landing on the floor.  Apple puts the consumer as the central character of this spot by playing to consumers’ emotions about viruses and the safety of their computers.  The consumers, especially PC owners, can identify with the virus story and that’s why the spot is personal.  Also, by personifying the virus and the computer, the character (meaning the audience) feels that him or herself, not just their computer, could catch the virus.  The audience is taken from Point A to Point B in thirty short seconds because they come into the commercial as a PC owner and leave the commercial with the knowledge that Macs apparently do not get viruses.  This spot’s hilarity makes it enjoyable to watch. The spot’s product information makes it powerful. 

This spot begins how every Get A Mac spot begins: with the introduction.  Every commercial in this campaign begins with “Mac” saying, “Hello. I’m a Mac” followed immediately by “PC” saying, “And I’m a PC.”  However, this spot is different in that “Mac” immediately responds with something unexpected.  Here’s the dialogue:

“Mac”: “Hello. I’m a Mac.”
“PC”: “And I’m a PC.”
“Mac”: “And I’m a PC, too.”

“PC” is totally thrown off-guard by this comment.  “Mac” continues by stating that Mac now has the capacity to run Windows operating system.  He then cleverly states that because of this, Mac may be the only computer you’ll ever need.  This spot places the consumer as the central character by addressing consumers’ concerns about Mac’s operating system. Consumers who may be considering purchasing a Mac may be apprehensive because they are familiar with Windows and their work is all done in Windows and Windows is the standard and….

The audience is once again taken from Point A to Point B, with Point B being the knowledge that Mac now runs Windows.  Whether or not the audience runs out and buys a Mac based on this is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that the audience feels an emotional and a logical connection with Mac in a totally new way.  The audience believes that Mac understands their needs and desires.  Their own personal complexity and dynamic nature is central to this brand.

This spot opens just like the others.  But something is noticeably different this time.  “Mac”, who is usually dressed in a signature T-shirt and blue jeans, is wearing a business suit.  “PC” immediately comments on this. Here is the dialogue:

“PC”:  “What’s with the big-boy clothes?”
“Mac”: “Oh, I just came from a meeting.”
“PC”: “Why, why, why were you at a meeting.”
“Mac”: “Oh, I do work stuff, too.”

“PC” then begins to hyperventilate and has to lie down.  He says that he knew this day would come.  Then he lies down on the floor and says, “Just let me lie here and depreciate.”  This spot takes the audience from Point A to Point B by showing them that Macs aren’t all fun-and-games and that you can get a lot of work done when using a Mac.  It brilliantly places the audience as the central character in the story by speaking to their desire for a “cool” computer and their need to work.

Get A Mac was a brilliantly executed campaign because it told its story by making the audience the central character.  When brands do this, they engage the consumer in a relationship, thereby building brand loyalty.  Consumers want products that are personal to them. They want products that make sense for their lives whether the product is for work or for pleasure.  In the ‘i’ generation of technological advancement, brands who are customer-centric instead of product-centric will have a competitive advantage because they will build lasting relationships with their target audience.  Regardless of what side of the personal computer debate you’re on, you would be remiss to deny that Apple's customer-centricity works.  All brands, big and small, can take a lesson from this campaign. 

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