updated 09:45 am EDT, Fri July 24, 2009
MS Tunes Laptop Hunter Ads
Microsoft has quietly toned down its Laptop Hunter ads to reflect the reduced argument it has against Apple, the company noted late yesterday. While the extent of its changes aren't exactly known, the company has posted a new version of its "Lauren & Sue" ad that omits references to a $2,000 MacBook Pro and now only makes an indirect attack, suggesting that Mac users are "paying a lot for the brand." The ad sees Lauren ultimately buying a $972 Dell Studio XPS 13 and drew criticism for deliberately choosing to include a comparison between this and the larger, faster 15-inch MacBook Pro instead of the then-current $1,299 aluminum MacBook.
Since then, Apple has rebadged the aluminum MacBook as a 13-inch MacBook Pro while upgrading its features and lowering the price by $100. Custom-configuring a Studio XPS 13 to roughly match the Mac's specs now reduces virtually all of the cost advantage and doesn't include features Dell can't replicate, such as the 7-hour battery life. Apple is now primarily limited in its entry prices, which Microsoft has attacked in a more recent spot that points out no Mac portable is available at $700.
Other ads are also likely to need major edits or to be pulled altogether, such as the "Sheila" ad that saw an aspiring video editor reject a 15-inch MacBook Pro over its default 2GB of RAM despite the HP alternative having a higher resolution and a slower processor. Since then, Apple's system not only matches the HP in RAM but is also available in a $1,700 model.
The change comes despite attempts by Microsoft COO Kevin Turner last week to interpret Apple's request to remove the ads as a sign of weakness. He insisted a call from the Mac designer's lawyers was proof the ads were effective but didn't mention that the company would have to make any changes. The ads also have had little practical bearing on Microsoft's Windows sales, as the company's revenue dropped 17 percent this quarter where Apple's grew by nearly the same percentage.
A Microsoft spokeswoman tells AdAge that the alterations don't change the emphasis of the ads, which it claims show the "value and choice" of PCs.