once more is carefully crafting a campaign designed to promote its Office software suite to users of Apple’s
Macintosh computer — easily some of its most rabid critics.
The ads come from out of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s five-year-old Macintosh Business Unit, which has been saddled with the dubious honor of serving both as one of the largest Mac software developers, while also a unit of the very company that Mac aficionados most love to hate.
That paradoxical character comes into play this weekend, with the latest slate of ads for Office v. X, as the version for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple’s OS X operating system is known.
Previously, work by Microsoft’s agency McCann-Erickson has sought to pitch Office to Mac users by walking a fine line between promoting the software without also promoting the company behind it. Last fall’s launch of the product — which bears a radically different logo, interface and packaging from the PC version — highlighted its being “bred” for the specific needs of Mac users.
In the new ads, McCann takes an about-face by attempting to leverage Microsoft’s role in Office v. X — saying it’s the reason Mac and PC users of the product can easily collaborate.
The ads, which are slated to run in business, technology, design and Macintosh-related publications, show a Mac and a PC playing nicely together. One creative in the campaign has a Mac and a PC relaxing together by the side of a pool, while another shows them fishing. A third ad has the two computers sharing Chinese food while watching late-night movies.
Copy for the pieces reads: “Macs and PCs have never been so compatible.”
The ads also encourage users to visit OfficeforMac.com, a new site where consumers can download a 30-day trial version of Office v. X.
Spending was not disclosed in the campaign.
The move comes on the heels of two related efforts by Microsoft’s Mac unit to promote Office v. X. Early this month, the software giant launched a joint promotion with Apple to offer discounts on Office v. X with the purchase of a new Mac — the first such deal between the two companies.
Microsoft this week also launched a contest to highlight the use of Office for Mac among female entrepreneurs. The company’s “Search for Ms. M.o.X.i.e.” promotion (M.o.X.i.e in this case standing for “Microsoft Office v. X integrated experience,”) is offering $10,000 cash plus a new iMac and Office v. X to the woman who best represents the “most agile, determined, entrepreneurial woman around” — who also is a Mac and Office user.
Still, the effort represents just the latest development in Microsoft and Apple’s long, sometimes-contentious, and always controversial, relationship.
As users of the distant No. 2 player in desktop PC operating systems, Mac afficionados represent a niche group of customers for Microsoft. But the group also can be potentially lucrative for some software vendors — due in no small part to their great affinity for the Mac brand, and Apple’s high profile in certain businesses, like advertising, publishing and design.
Complicating the issue, however, is the fact that much of Apple’s recent marketing strategy has centered around taking shots at Microsoft’s Windows operating system — witness the computer manufacturers’ “Switch” campaign.
Also, Microsoft in July complained publicly about the number of copies it had sold of Office v. X — charging that Apple had been sluggish in convincing Mac users to trade up to OS X. (Apple countered by claiming that Microsoft’s own marketing had been less-than-stellar.) The dust-up led some industry-watchers to suggest that the software giant might reduce its support for the Mac in the future.
Apple and Microsoft spokespeople have since declined to discuss the volume of sales for Office v. X.