Over the last few years, consumers have begun turning away from personal computers in favor of smaller, sexier phones and tablets. A group of major PC makers, plus Intel and Microsoft, think that it’s high time the PC gets its due.
A multi-company ad campaign called “PC Does What” will show off the capabilities of a new generation of PCs powered by Intel sixth-generation Core processors from Intel and the Windows 10 operating system from Microsoft, and manufactured by Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. It features at least five 16-second videos, all credited to Intel, which put people in a number of scenarios, all amazed by the capabilities of the PC. In each, they excitedly exclaim “PC does what?”
The chief marketing officers of all five companies gathered for a Webcast, where they explained that the collaboration began in June. The ads themselves will run for six weeks, ending on Nov. 30 at about the time each company will begin launching their own individual ad campaigns for the holidays. According to Chris Capossela, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Microsoft, this is the first time members of the PC industry have launched such a collective campaign.
It’s an unprecedented meeting of the creative minds of the PC industry, where cutthroat competition has been used to play one vendor off another and keep overall PC prices down far below the $2,000 or so a new PC would command a couple of decades ago. But traditional PC companies have blazed a trail into the commercial and enterprise markets to stave off declining PC sales, which this week dove into “unknown territory” with a 7.7 percent decline compared to a year ago, according to Gartner.
“An industry that sells a couple hundred million PCs a year is not a dying industry,” said Karen Quintos, the chief marketing officer at Dell, during the Webcast. “The role of the PC is so fundamental—how you learn, how you interact. It’s our time to highlight that to customers.”
The features that the ads highlight include Windows Hello, or the ability to log yourself in using biometrics, the long battery life of modern PCs, the improved graphics (30 times faster than a five-year-old PC, PC makers say) as well as the “tablet-like” responsiveness of today’s PCs.
The ads themselves
Probably the most interesting aspect of the campaign is that the five companies will make heavy use of “native advertising,” also known as “advertorial”. Steven Fund, the chief marketing officer for Intel, said that the companies “want to be where the consumers are seeking out information”. Native advertising, he said, isn’t advertising, “it’s content.”
While the video ads themselves aren’t bad, the repetition of the phrase “PC does whaaat”—well, it’s a bit cringe-worthy. The ads themselves are relatively innocuous, promoting a single feature per ad. They seem to be deliberately shying away from the sort of “Oh my god, it can do that?” tone that Apple has deliberately set into something more playful and fun. Time will tell, of course, as to whether that’s the right approach.
Our take: While the tone and content of the ads—lighthearted and fun, colorful and active—set a distinct, uniquely PC tone that’s in keeping with the Microsoft Windows motif, the “PC does whaat?” line seems headed for meme status, and not in a good way. But maybe we're just cynical, too. What do you think? (And just for the record, no, we do NOT prefer Apple's ads at all.)
Correction: A previous version of the story stated that the campaign will include print. It will not.