Think Different no more. Apple Computer has launched a new advertising campaign this week that finally pushes the company's products to Windows users rather than the rapidly diminishing percentage of people that use the Mac. Previous to its "Real People" campaign, which features real ex-Windows users that have switched to the Mac, Apple had employed a strategy similar to that used by Corel while marketing its WordPerfect products, in that its advertising was based almost solely around reminding existing users why their technology choice was best. But as Apple's US market share has slipped from 5 percent to less than 3.5 percent under CEO Steve Job's tutelage, the company has finally woken up to the notion that it needs to stop preaching to the choir.
"The most important thing for us is that viewers are smart about advertising," Jobs says. "We've all had too many tobacco companies tell us they're good guys to believe advertising. We let these people \[in the ads\] speak for themselves." Apple selected the former Windows users shown in the ads from more than 10,000 unsolicited email testimonials the company received, Jobs says. The ad campaign features tag lines that are purportedly real quotes from these users, such as "Using my PC was like being stuck in a bad marriage."
One obvious issue with the ads is the effect they might have on Apple's relationship with Microsoft. Apple has often poked fun at Microsoft and Windows in its advertising (such as the infamous C:\NGRTLNS.W95 ad when Windows 95 shipped) but the company now has a more cordial relationship with Redmond. Jobs says the ads won't affect this relationship. "Our relationship with Microsoft is really pretty good," Jobs says. "\[What are\] a few market-share points between friends? It wouldn't matter to them, and we would be eternally grateful."
Apple is also considering a campaign aimed at getting Windows users into its retail stores. The company currently operates 30 retail locations in the US and has plans to open several more by the end of the year. The goal is to lure potential "switchers" into the store, which in Microsoft terms, might be compared to the "runners" in Logan's Run. If Apple can snag enough switchers, the company hopes to bump its market share above the 5 percent mark for the first time in over 7 years.