Mac Uses Comedy & Characters to Overpower Microsoft!

Is viral marketing still the key to a brand’s success? What are the main elements that steer a social media marketing campaign towards a “viral” positioning? What are the strategies and techniques some of the brand marketers use to gain a vast reach and a wide exposure?

Just as many of us have been spectators of different wars, battles and rivalries amongst different people throughout history, we have also been witnesses to, what seems to be, the never ending battles between brands trying to reach the “king of the jungle” status. Naturally, the first battle that would come to mind is: Pepsi vs. Coke followed by McDonalds vs. Burger King. Though their marketing strategies are not entirely ethical, these competing brands have been able to sustain a high level of quality at affordable prices for their customers.

Not so long ago in the early 90′s, a surviving player was resurrected with a new and stronger image to present to the competitive world wide markets in the hardware/software technology field, the Mac, creating a new challenge for Microsoft and stirring up the debate: can Microsoft’s PC become replaceable after all those years? Could there really be a better alternative? Mac’s answer was: Definitely yes!

According to Apple reports, and for the second quarter of 2009, the company posted revenue of $8.16 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.21 billion, or $1.33 per diluted share. Gross margin was 36.4 percent, up from 32.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 46 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Timeline of Macintosh Models

Timeline of Macintosh Models

But how? How was Mac able to grab and sustain the attention of many previous loyal Microsoft users?

When Mac made its comeback to the scene, not only did it provide solutions to current Microsoft PC problems, it also provided creative, out of the box viral marketing campaigns to spread the news about its uniqueness and why it is different. Furthermore, Mac was able to gain a high market share through a short period of time through personifying its ads, making them connect with the target audience and speak their language.

Let’s explore at the following examples:

  • “Hello, I’m a Mac” Campaign vs. Microsoft’s “Laptop Hunters Campaign“. The less than unique or humorous Windows campaign which screams desperate had no effect on Macbook Pro Sales.
  • Get a Mac” Campaign by Apple, launched in 2006 and still running, revolved around the “Tribal Brand” Concept; giving potential customers a sense of belonging. Moreover, and due to its comedic approach, this campaign was able to reach a very broad target audience.
  • Apple’s ‘Think Different” Campaign that ran from 1997- 2002, concentrated its efforts on proving how a Mac is different in every possible way than the old style regular PC.


  • Personifying a brand can reap a great benefit to brand owners since it makes the brand real and closer to its consumers, giving them a deep sense of belonging and loyalty.
  • Exuberance in aimless advertising expenditures could be tragic and could further portray a negative image of the brand.
  • Adding engaging characters in your online advertisement videos has the ability to help grow an audience that’s receptive to your brand.
  • Knowing your strengths and focusing on them in your marketing campaigns is a key strategy that has been used for decades and which proves to be successful up to this day.

I, for one, have never loved my Mac more than after watching a list of their ads while doing this research!

Finally, I’ll leave you to think about this: do you think there will ever be a time when Mac can dominate the market it serves completely?

Comments and Reactions

  • FadiPick

    I salute Mac for their amazing work in this area and which translated into a higher market share, but I still think that they have a very long way to go in order to achieve a market dominance. I can't see this happening yet, not in the near or far future.

    Microsoft messed up a lot with the vista, Mac seized the chance and played it right. Now other players are seeing Microsoft's weakness and ready to launch their assaults (I mean google here). Would Google take a chunck of the market? I certainly think they will. We will finally end up with a 3 big horses instead of the tradition one we dealt with for ages!

  • tomassteele

    Their ads worked on me. I bought a MacBook Air a year ago after seeing the ads on TV. I haven't used a Mac in over 10 years so there was a bit of a learning curve. Once I got the hang of it, I dreaded going into work to use a PC. I'm a hug Mac fan now and every ad I see makes me more proud of my purchase!

  • Amer Kawar

    I admire the way Apple used YouTube and social media in general to accomplish even more than their money's worth. Allow me to explain.

    The social media campaign of Mac vs. PC is a series of videos making fun of the PC/Windows and showing the Mac is more stable and user friendly, and so on through *sarcasm*. This is catchy, even if a person does not use Mac. It's simply fun. A regular person – myself at least :P – cannot stop at one video, and clicks on as many short Mac vs. PC videos as he/she can find. Even if it's a fun commercial, Mac succeeded in delivering a bunch of short messages through these short sarcastic videos.

    But, I also think they got more than their money's worth. That's because their ad didn't stop when they stopped distributing it over the channels they have immediate control over. On the contrary, the videos are still distributed through YouTube, emails, twitter and other social media channels.

    But it doesn't end here, non-official Mac vs. PC videos are flooding YouTube (check A really cool one is Mac vs. PC Transformers style:

    As usual, just my 2 cents :)

  • JohnLusher

    Another very good post and of course, being a Mac person, it is something I enjoyed (just like you said I would).

    Mac's grasp of what users want is only equaled by their marketing genius. Apple has succeeded in making their brand something that is “wanted” by the masses; anyone that doubts this just needs to recall when the iPod or the iPhone was originally released. Compare and contrast this to the average Windows users; how may people actually look forward, in a positive manner, to the next release of Windows OS?

    Yes, I know, Mac controls the OS and the hardware, and Microsoft does not. This argument falls short of my original point of people wanting what Mac produces! Combine this with the numerous times that Microsoft has released something that was not ready; it is easy to see why Mac is overpowering Microsoft.

  • Ercairion Gloxoin

    I must admit I have never been a Mac fan not because the product doesn't deserve attention or respect, but simply because I grew up with a PC using the Windows OS and have never been able to master the Mac operating system. However, I have to admit that the advertisement wars continue to go to Apple and the Macbook or MAC PC's. All of Microsoft's responses have been either lame, or misdirected to the wrong target market; many of their latest releases have been untimely coming too late to the party while others have tried to take off too quickly before their wings had grown sufficient feathers to keep them afloat and have crashed terribly. Bing seemed to be a jewel in the MS crown, but even that has already begun to show signs of a premature launch.

    All in all, Mac is winning the ad wars, but school is out when it comes to predicting that Mac will some day dominate it's target market. As long as the Microsoft operating systems continue to dominate the global environment when it comes to new applications and add-ons, then MS will continue to dominate I believe. Of course there is nothing to say that Mac's OS won't soon dominate that field as well so you never know do you?

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