Microsoft launching new ad campaign tonight

The software giant's new ads are an extension of its "I'm a PC" campaign. Though it won't divulge its total investment, the ads will run through the holiday shopping season.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Microsoft's latest "I'm a PC" ad, showing "Julie" with her new PC.
Microsoft's latest "I'm a PC" ad, showing "Julie" with her new PC. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Microsoft is launching its latest Windows ad campaign tonight, the company has confirmed to CNET.

Starting at prime time, Microsoft's new ads, which were developed by the Crispin Porter + Bogusky agency, will expand upon the firm's "I'm a PC" campaign. Tonight's ad highlights "Julie," who says that she doesn't want a new computer because she doesn't believe "there's something out there better than what I've got now." After learning about the different PC options available to her, she chooses a PC running Windows 7.

The ad will be one of many featuring "real couples" with outdated PCs. One person in each relationship is in on a plan to upgrade, while the other is not. After showing why the unassuming person doesn't want a new PC, Microsoft surprises them by setting up "a personal store of PCs" in their home. After trying out the different options, the couple can keep the PC of their choosing. The ads end with the folks saying, "I'm a PC."

Microsoft's "I'm a PC" ad campaign launched after the software giant was fed up with the pounding it was taking in Apple's "Get A Mac" campaign. In those ads, Apple used humor to outline the pitfalls it saw in owning a Windows PC, rather than a Mac. The ads featured John Hodgman as the boring, work-focused PC, and Justin Long as the "cool" Mac.

In 2008, Microsoft responded with ads showing co-founder Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The ads, which were part of a wider $300 million campaign, confused many viewers as Microsoft tried to use them to repair its brand image. They were quickly replaced with new spots directly targeting Apple's campaign.

In 2009, Microsoft took aim at Mac pricing in its "Laptop Hunter" ads with the help of "Lauren," a consumer who was looking to find "a laptop with speed, comfortable keyboard, and a 17-inch screen for under $1,000." Lauren took to the Apple Store, only to find "one computer available" that matched her pricing. Discouraged by the 13-inch display, she said that she wasn't "cool enough to be a Mac person." She then went to a local big-box retailer and found several Windows PCs in her price range with the features she was after.

As the Laptop Hunter ads continued, Microsoft hinted that it was finally turning the tide in the ad space. The company's chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, said in 2009 that his company was contacted by Apple's legal department, requesting that Microsoft "stop running those ads."

"I did cartwheels down the hallway," he said at the time.

With its latest ad push, it's clear that Microsoft isn't ready to let up. Its new ads will feature several different PCs from a variety of vendors, including Sony, HP, and others.

According to Microsoft, the ads will be running on all the major networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. Tonight alone, the ads will air on "Dancing With the Stars," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Two And A Half Men," among others.

"There is a ton of PC innovation and beauty out there today and this campaign really shows it off," Windows Consumer Marketing general manager, Kathleen Hall, told CNET today. "We are encouraging our customers to take a fresh look at what a Windows PC can be."

Microsoft declined to comment on how much it's spending on this latest ad push.