RealTime IT News

Apple Targets PC Users in New Ads

Apple Computer is upping the ante in its bid to boost market share with a new campaign that speaks directly to Microsoft Windows users.

The "Real People" campaign from Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple debuts Monday with eight spots, each of which features an interview with a different PC-to-Macintosh convert. Designed by longtime Apple agency of record TBWA\Chiat\Day of Playa Del Rey, Calif. and directed by documentary-maker Errol Morris, the ads show interviews with consumers that represent the traditional Mac user: a writer, an illustrator, an interactive producer and a DJ.

But the ads also feature an IT administrator, a small business owner, and a programmer -- representing areas in which Apple has traditionally been seen as lagging.

"More people are interested in switching from PCs to Macs than ever before, and we hope that hearing these successful switchers tell their story will help others make the jump," said Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

A year ago, at the time of Apple's retail store launch, Jobs said that the company's top priority was expanding its share of the PC market from 5 percent, despite anemic personal computer sales across the board. With the newest ads, that priority has translated into some eyebrow-raising advertising: "switcher" campaigns usually tend toward the aggressive -- if not the downright dirty -- and Apple's newest effort accordingly pulls few punches in making its pitch.

"It's like being stuck in a bad relationship," says freelance illustrator Mark Frauenfelder of his Windows use, in one of the spots.

In another, small business owner Patrick Gant adds, "I'm self-employed, so I don't have an IT department, and that's one of the main reasons I wound up buying a Mac ... I don't have any of the problems I used to have with a PC. It doesn't crash, I don't have the blue screen of death any more."

Another interviewee, Aaron Adams, says in a third spot that he works with Windows all day, "and when I'm tired of fighting with that, I come home to a Macintosh that works." The kicker comes as Adams then identifies himself as a Windows LAN administrator.

Spending for the campaign was not disclosed but it represents Apple's largest advertising effort since "Think Different" -- featuring pictures of iconoclastic celebrities, artists and historical figures -- debuted in 1998.

The Apple spots will air on ABC, NBC and Fox, including during ABC's "Boston 24/7" miniseries and NBC's coverage of the NBA Finals. The ads also will run on cable networks ESPN, CNBC, Comedy Central, and Fox News.

Print ads supporting the campaign will run in this week's issues of Time and Newsweek, and later this month in other magazines.

The computer maker also is reported to be moving Windows PCs into its 30 Apple Retail Stores, for side-by-side comparisons and demonstrations of cross-platform networking.

The campaign comes on the heels of Apple's release of its Xserve rack-mount server last month, designed to better position the company in the enterprise market.

The company also continues heavily touting its more stable, Unix-based operating system, OS X -- with Apple's Jobs, ever the showman, dramatically "burying" the computer maker's previous operating system during the MacWorld San Francisco user conference last month. Apple is banking that by encouraging OS X, based on 4.4BSD and a Mach 3.0 kernel, high-end Unix developers will migrate to the Macintosh.