The Switch Campaign Targets Mac users Not PC Users

by Hadley Stern Apr 02, 2003

Is the switch campaign really intended to switch Windows users to Macs or is it speaking more to Mac users? Ever since the humble beginnings of Apple, communicating the brand has been Apple’s strongest point. One could make the argument that Apple’s greatest success has not been in creating great technology, but rather in creating great marketing to sell technology.

Many before me have written of the cult-like following Apple has. Unlike typical computer users, Mac users tend to take Apple far more seriously and passionately. Witness the number of fan sites, news sites and op-ed sites dedicated to Apple—including this one. The Apple phenomenon is wide-spread and potent. Apple knows this and, I suspect, is exploiting the most central tenant of the Apple faithful—that Windows sucks in its new switch campaign.

The ads feature people who have converted from Apple to Windows. They tell us how bad their Windows experience was and how much better their Mac experience is. But these ads aren’t really targeted at Windows users at all. Rather they are targeted at the Apple faithful, making us feel good about being Apple users. It allows us to be excited about being Apple users and share that excitement with the world at large. We all secretly know that while it may be possible, it is very unlikely that Apple will be the dominant computing platform of choice. But that is not what these ads are about. They are about reinforcing the central tenant of faith of Apple users, that we are better.

This mistargeting of the ads is a shame. Instead of focusing on the superiority of OS X, Apple is speaking in the old Mac vs. PC voice. If anything, I imagine that this turns off PC users who have already invested significant time and money in their setups. The last thing they want to see are snide jabs at their decision.

By continuing the PC sucks rhetoric, Apple is missing a wonderful opportunity to really surpass Windows. Instead of focusing on how Windows sucks, Apple should focus on the meat and potatoes of Apple—great technology that allows people to do great things. The switch campaign’s focus on ease-of-use also excludes significant niche markets, Unix users, science users, software developers, and many more. It’s not just about organizing digital photo libraries and it’s not just about how the Mac is better than Windows. Apple needs a new campaign that focuses on what its products do and not on the type of person who may use them. What do you think? Is the switch campaign really working? Is it targeted towards Mac users or PC users?


  • I disagree. I think one of the main reasons there is animosity between the Mac and Windows faithful is that neither group really understands the other’s platform. As a “Mac-Only” user, I have no clue how to work a Windows machine. I have no reason to either. I have a Mac at work and a Mac at home and anytime I interact with non-mac users, it is through internet browsers, PDFs, and email programs. What I do believe, is that there are Windows users out there whom do not want to be the first to switch, in fear of incompatibility or loss in productivity. They probably ooh and ahh over what their Mac friends can do but are too afraid to take the plunge alone. I question whether the Switch customers in the commercials are in fact former Windows users or just actors. Either way I think it gives Windows users, who are riding the fence on switching, a gentle shove to our side.

    Gregory Ng had this to say on Apr 03, 2003 Posts: 54
  • I partly agree/disagree. I think Apple?s switch campaign is first targeting the potential users that were not aware they are in reality Mac folk. Pick the low hanging fruit first.

    In the mean time Apple is working like mad to complete a very professional computing alternative for more demanding users (servercapabilities, OS connection and security capabilities, speed etc.) including a set of productivity apps. A full force switching campaign at this moment would reveal the missing pieces and thus disqualify Apple and OS X within the IT world for years to come.

    MJ had this to say on Apr 06, 2003 Posts: 9
  • i’m a bit late in seeing this, but i also disagree that the Switch campaign was targeted to Mac users. as clever as Apple’s ad-men might may be, i think it was a plain and simple call to Wintel users: “having problems? give us a try.”

    that being said, i do have to agree that it was not the best decision. to spend the money on a campaign like that, just to further old-school rivalries? instead of saying, “man, you guys need to leave behind Windoze and get with OS X” they should have done what they usually do: wow people with their offerings. there have been no iPod ads where people say, “i used to have a 20 GB Nomad Jukebox. it sucked batteries like a vampire and it was too big to fit in my shirt pocket. but now i’ve got an iPod and i’ve lost 20 pounds and got a new job. thanks Apple!” instead, things like the iPod are sold (and sold in huge volumes) through nothing more than great design. all you have to do is hold up any Rio, Creative Labs, Nike, etc MP3 player next to the iPod and you instantly know which one you want. same goes for the other hardware, and OS X as well. show people what OS X looks like in action and it will sell itself. show it running MS Office, chat programs, and email programs to erase the idea that the Mac is a cutesy niche product for graphic designers. and show it doing the other things that are harder to do on Windows. one 30-second spot showing how easy it is to hook up your DV cam, launch iMovie, and start editing. it’s the best truth in advertising you can get - just show the products in action. wouldn’t work for every business, but in Apple’s case i think that would be perfect, because the stuff they make is inherently impressive. forget this fifth-grade “mine sucks less than yours” stuff.

    and i have to add that those new Switch-styled iPod ads are looking rough. i think they need to tell Errol Morris to pack his bags.

    wes had this to say on May 01, 2003 Posts: 12
  • I can hardly credit the idea that Apple has ever successfully marketed anything. Doesn?t anyone remember eWorld? The Newton? Anyone out there surfing the web with CyberDog? Do you see the market share of HyperCard growing? Apple STILL doesn?t know what market HyperCard addresses!

    The success of the Mac is based on the fact that it?s so good that it survives Apple marketing fiascos. Even in the immediately pre-?Jobs 2.0? era, when Apple was bleeding marketshare faster than Exxon tankers bleed oil, the Mac held on.

    I think the ads target who they say they do. Whether they do so effectively or not is a different question. I can?t help but be struck by the fact that ?switch from Wintel? ads appeared *immediately* after the 5 year MS investment deal with Apple ended. MS could concentrate their efforts for 3 1/2 years on other areas, like putting voyeur peepholes for national security groups into their OS, in exchange for the Justice Department suit dying. Then they had 1 1/2 years left to get their first ever decent Mac department in place and running before the agreement ended. Now THAT?S marketing strategy that makes even an inferior product a best-seller.

    Tony Vazquez had this to say on May 01, 2003 Posts: 4
  • that’s a great quote - “it’s so good that it survives Apple marketing fiascoes!” i think they need to give you a job as Head Sloganeer

    wes had this to say on May 01, 2003 Posts: 12
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