PC to Mac: Cheap is the new cool

Microsoft has unveiled a new ad campaign designed to hit Apple where it hurts: In people's wallets. A new ad shows real people trying to buy affordable laptops, and ending up buying PCs rather than Macs because they can't afford high-priced hardware. The campaign even uses jujitsu against Apple coolness, saying that cheap is the new cool.

The first ad ran last night during the NCAA basketball playoffs last night. In it, a woman named Lauren is looking to buy a laptop with a 17-inch screen for under $1000 and with a comfortable keyboard. She was told that if she could find such a machine, she'd get to keep the money.

Her first stop was an Apple store, which she left not particularly happily because the only laptop for under $1000 (it was $999) had a 13-inch screen.

As she drives away in her car, she says sarcastically, "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person." Given that she's a hip-looking, stylishly dressed, attractive young woman, the message is clear: Spending too much money for a computer is uncool, and so Macs have lost the "coolness factor."

She ultimately heads to a Best Buy, where she happily eyes a host of less-expensive laptops with big screens and keyboards, and comes away with an HP Pavilion notebook with a 17-inch screen and comfortable keyboard. Cost: $699.99. Ultimately, she adds a printer, and the entire cost is $900.

Her conclusion at the end of the ad: "I'm a PC, and I got just what I wanted."

You can see the ad, below.

According to the Digits blog on the Wall Street Journal, Lauren and other potential computer shoppers who will appear in future ads were recruited "through Craigslist and other sites, with a tantalizing offer to give them between $700 and $2,000 to purchase a new" computer.

The Digits blog reports that:

According to Brad Brooks, corporate vice president for Windows consumer product marketing at Microsoft, the agency told recruits it was a market research firm and didn't mention it was working with Microsoft. The recruits were told they could keep whatever money they didn’t spend on a PC so they had incentives to look for good values.

The blog goes on to say:

Brooks says of the roughly dozen computer shoppers its agency recruited, not a single one ended up spending their money on a Mac. Brooks says he "swears on a stack of Bibles" that the agency didn't in any way steer the shoppers towards a particular brand of computer or operating system. "Value is on the top of everybody's mind these days with the economic situation we’re in," he says.

The message in all this: In a dire recession, cheap is the new cool.

For the pro-Apple perspective, check out Seth Weintraub's  Microsoft's new anti-Apple ad: Hardware is cheap!

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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