Microsoft is still getting catty with Apple. This time, in song.
A new ad for the Surface Pro 4 pokes fun at the Macbook Air, continuing one of the Windows giant's favorite traditions of recent years—mocking Siri, and other aspects of Apple products, in its marketing.
Unlike previous commercials, though, this attack—from m:united//McCann and Reset director Daniel Warwick—comes in musical form, with a man praising the Microsoft tablet and berating the Apple laptop in pop honky-tonk rhymes that might leave you laughing, or else curled up on the floor in the fetal position crying in pain.
"This one's got detachable keys. It comes with a pen so you can write as you please," the guy talk-sings, while banging out a simple, upbeat keyboard accompaniment. "This Mac doesn't have any of that. It's less useful… like a hat for your cat," he continues. Sick burn.
The bakeoff continues, for better or worse.
"Surface has touch and a beautiful screen," says the pitchman, as the organ enters. "You can see things like they've never been seen." OK. "This Mac doesn't quite compare … it's slower, heavy and a bit square." He returns again to the Microsoft product. "Fold it in half, hello when you start, lighter than air, you can doodle a heart. Yes, it's plain to see, the Surface Pro 4 is made for me."
It's a zippy little salvo, and a welcome twist on the marketer's antagonistic habit. To be fair, the lyrics aren't as terrible as they might seem, insofar as they manage to subtly, if incredulously, knock Apple on points where it's considered dominant.
In terms of cool factor, Mac is the clear winner, though—far from "square." And the idea that a musician would prefer a Windows machine runs contrary to the conventional wisdom—or perhaps dated myth—that professional creatives (in audio production and other fields) all prefer Apples on their merit. (Some consumers, meanwhile, have been experiencing problems making tunes on their Surface 4 Pros.)
It's also a questionable tactic, insofar as it's not an, um, apples-to-apples comparison, weighing Microsoft's product against a non-equivalent Apple offering. Some of the features Microsoft is touting—detachable keyboard, a stylus—are available as accessories to the iPad 4 Pro, which has reportedly overtaken Microsoft at its own laptop hybrid game. (A duller Microsoft ad earlier this month did make the brand's case for the superiority of its detachable keyboard product over the relative latecomer to the segment.) This matters only to the degree that it's confusing as hell, and perhaps irksome to viewers who'll do their own research and perhaps feel misled.
There's also the issue of Microsoft continuing to define its products against Apple's, effectively serving as a reminder that the latter basically invented the tablet category that the former is building on. Even the aesthetic seems influenced by Apple's advertising—dreamy and inviting pastel backdrops have been a feature in some recent ads, and find new, if perhaps more playful life, here. (And of course, any comparison advertising can't help but echo "I'm a Mac. And I'm a PC.")
Least persuasive, though, is the ad's knock against felines in headgear. It'd perhaps be more fair to wonder why the guy is wearing a boater—a sartorial choice that casts a long shadow on his credibility. Arguably—in fact, historically—cats in hats are more entertaining than this guy is. And they're better—or at least better suited—to nursery rhyming, too.