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"I'm a PC" - John C. Kirk

Nov. 7th, 2009

02:25 am - "I'm a PC"

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Back in Jan 2007, I mentioned the Apple adverts ("I'm a Mac" ... "and I'm a PC"). As I said back then, I like the adverts, even though I disagree with them from a technical point of view.

More recently, Microsoft have been running their own advert campaign. They did a set of adverts a few months ago which had various people saying "I'm a PC": the idea was apparently to show a wide demographic range, rather than "middle aged white guy in a suit". The current version is "I'm a PC, and Windows 7 was my idea!" Unfortunately, I really think that Microsoft missed the point, so these adverts are rather embarrassing to watch.

Going back to the Apple adverts, the key concept is "anthropomorphic personification" (like Death in the Discworld novels). So, when the PC guy starts sneezing, that represents a computer catching a computer virus. By contrast, the Microsoft adverts are all about people who use PCs, e.g. school teachers and SCUBA divers. That's fine, but then the tagline should be "I use a PC", not "I am a PC".

If you do want to stick with the original concept, this Shortpacked! strip did an excellent job. (You may need to read the blog posts here and here to understand the context.) Basically, there's a USB memory stick that doubles up as a Transformers toy: more specifically, Ravage, who is (sort of) a black panther. The USB stick comes with a software application, so that you can have a digital version running around on your desktop, but this only works on Windows. Following this through, it makes sense that the guy representing a PC would then have a robotic panther as a pet, giving him the advantage over Mac guy.

So, my advice to Microsoft: either embrace the metaphor, or avoid it altogether, but the current adverts just sound stupid.

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[User Picture]
From:elvum
Date:November 7th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
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Did you see this video (or similar)?
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[User Picture]
From:johnckirk
Date:November 8th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
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I hadn't, no - now that I've seen it, my first reaction was to hope that it didn't actually come from Microsoft. Sadly, it seems that it did:
http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2009/10/26/small-thanks-to-microsoft-for-my-windows-7-party/

Aside from being a terrible video, it's also a pretty poor idea for a party. The strange thing is that Microsoft can handle this type of situation better. A couple of years ago, I went along to the launch event for Windows Vista, Windows 2008, and Office 2007, so the audience was IT professionals (who actually wanted to learn about this). It was a free event, and they provided free beer and pizza, then they sent us all a free copy of Vista and Office to use at home. So, I started using it right away, and then I could influence other people (e.g. my workplace).

I also remember that when Windows 95 came out, people were queuing up at midnight to buy copies. Something similar happened when people went to buy the new Harry Potter books, and I gather that some bookshops organised activities for everyone to do while they were waiting, so it might make sense to do something similar here (i.e. demonstrate the new features and then let people buy it). However, inviting friends round to my flat for a party just to demonstrate the new features, while we're all being filmed? Ick.
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