British Mac vs. U.S. Mac

April 30, 2008

I’ve been cold on the famous Mac vs. PC ads for years, but I love the newer UK version, even though the ads have literally the same scripts. Yes, the U.S. Mac ads are funny, cleverly written and have a clear, strategic message… but they screwed up the casting in the U.S. version, and nailed it across the pond.

The U.S. Mac is a little too hip. He looks like he carries his Mac in a messenger bag while biking to an organic coffee shop where he’ll work on his latest freelance graphic design project. He’s also a little too emo.

My main problem though is the U.S. PC. He’s basically a computer geek in a suit. Bill Gates with a tie and straighter hair. He even seems nice, if a little insecure. The worst part from a persuasion perspective is he evokes all the wrong stereotypes. No matter what the dialog is saying, the guy looks and feels like we expect a computer expert to look and feel. Mac = graphic designer. PC = computer expert. Huge problem.

The UK version on the other hand, was masterfully cast. The Mac is a touch more manly, he exudes confidence and straddles the line between hipster and jock perfectly. He’s extremely easy for wide spectrum of people to relate to.

Even better, the PC is transformed from an insecure IT manager in Brooks Brothers threads… into full on wanker.  The character is uptight, snobbish, arrogant and looks like the kind of guy who’d think C++ is only slightly worse than a B-. It absolutely makes the ad, he’s brilliant. 

The U.S. version subtly reinforced the images that Macs are great for graphics, maybe they’re easier to use, and yeah they may even be a little cool, but they’re not REAL computers the way PC’s are. The UK version gets across all the positive images they U.S. ads tried to convey without putting its product back into the box that has kept the Mac a niche product for so long.


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