A big deal was made last week about a phone call from Apple legal to Microsoft asking them to stop running its “Laptop Hunter” ads. The way it was portrayed was that Apple was feeling the pressure from the ads and was trying to get them pulled. I don’t think so. But what really happened? I have a theory on that.
If you noticed, Microsoft recently began running the older ads again. In point of fact, the ads were wrong because they depicted the Macs as being more expensive than they actually are.
Apple could have submitted a complaint to the FTC about false advertising, but instead they called Microsoft directly. Apple’s legal team told them of its concerns and that was the end of it. Until Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer let the cat out of the bag.
I don’t blame him for telling everybody. The fact is, Apple would have done the same thing during a keynote if it had the chance.
The problem is that Apple allowed itself to be pulled into the “Laptop Hunter” ad debate at all. To this point, Apple has kept clear of the whole debate about whether or not those ads are working.
This was a terrible mistake on their part. Microsoft is soaking every bit of press they can get out of it.
Here’s how it went down during Turner’s speech, according to Microsoft’s transcript:
And so we’ve been running these PC value ads. Just giving people saying, hey, what are you looking to spend? “Oh, I’m looking to spend less than $1,000.” Well we’ll give you $1,000. Go in and look and see what you can buy. And they come out and they just show them. Those are completely unscripted commercials.And you know why I know they’re working? Because two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey — this is a true story — saying, “Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.” They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I’ve ever taken in business. (Applause.)
A better approach for Apple would have been to put a laptop hunter on one of the “I’m a Mac” commercials, like it did with the “Elimination” ad. Make fun of the situation, but don’t respond directly to the commercials.
Maybe Apple should hire Homeless Frank for an ad or two.
To be honest, I don’t think Apple is one bit concerned about the “Laptop Hunter” ads. Why? Because they aren’t even the customers Apple expects to get from that category of shoppers.
Apple has never targeted that low-end customer. Admittedly $1,000 is on the border of where people could buy a Mac, but when people start out with a low price in mind, you’re not going for a Mac.
The ads don’t answer a lot of questions, like the viruses and malware that Windows users will inevitably be infected with. It also doesn’t answer the real cost of owning a PC over a Mac even in the short term, let alone over the long haul.
Last year Apple owned 66 percent of the computer market priced $1,000 or higher. Do you really think they need to be concerned about Microsoft showing how cheap their partner’s computers are? No.