Microsoft's "I'm a PC" campaign -- part of Crispin Porter & Bogusky's $300 million marketing ploy to help the computer maker regain some positive buzz lost to competitor Apple -- has launched yet another iteration, this time, going user-generated.
Keeping it real
The latest spots are a compendium of consumer-generated content based on "I'm a PC," which began airing last month. The new ads, which began running yesterday, string together what Microsoft calls "real PC users" from around the world who uploaded a video to Windows.com. Additional spots will be created using user-generated content from the site, Microsoft said, meaning that anyone who visits Windows.com and uploads a video has the chance to star in a future ad.
Submitting a video entails recording five seconds of footage using a webcam; simply state "I'm a PC," followed by something (non-obscene, naturally) you love to do. Individuals are then asked to choose a PC name, which will be displayed with the video.
Imaginations run wild
The end result features folks making mundane, sarcastic or downright bizarre pronouncements, from "I'm a PC and I like the slimming effect of a purple striped shirt" to "I'm a PC and by that I don't mean politically correct."
One spot groups together a number of user-created videos themed around food: "I'm a PC and I cook dinner every night" and "I'm a PC and I eat pancakes."
According to a Microsoft spokeswoman, in the first few weeks following the launch of "I'm a PC," more than 17,000 photos and videos were uploaded by consumers hoping to become part of the campaign, and "I'm a PC" videos have been viewed on the site almost 1.5 million times.
Microsoft hasn't set a timeline for creating and airing the next round of user-generated ads but said it is "fully committed to putting more on the air." Additionally, some user videos will be shown on digital billboards in New York's Times Square.
So are the people uploading pictures and videos actually real PC users, or are they merely looking for 15 seconds of fame? For its part, Microsoft doesn't really care.
Mac users welcome
In the frequently asked questions section of the site, it says: "I have a Mac, can I participate?" Microsoft's answer: "Of course you can. A Mac can be a PC too, most notably when it runs Windows Vista."
That's a friendlier stance than Apple took in one of the latest ads last week in its long-running and popular "Mac vs. PC" campaign. In a spot dubbed "Bean Counter," again featuring Justin Long as Mac and John Hodgman as PC, Apple snubs Microsoft's new ad campaign -- criticizing the company for investing more money on ads instead of fixing glitches in its Vista operating systems.
Incidentally, according to Visible Measures, which aggregates data on online viral videos, the first seven days of the new Apple ads notched 70% of the reach the PC ads snared in their first seven days. But Apple had double the number of unique placements -- sites that posted the video -- than Microsoft had, perhaps indicating Apple ads have more viral potential.
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Contributing: Abbey Klaassen