Who's the real target of Microsoft's "Lauren" commercials?

By now, pretty much everyone has watched Lauren find her perfect $699 HP laptop. If you haven’t, go take a look now. i’ll wait.

This commercial has everyone on the internets talking. the Windows community is happy that Microsoft is “finally sticking it to Apple”. The Apple community is, well no they’re not pissed. they are snickering that Microsoft is doing Apple’s advertising for them. But all in all, everyone is having a lot of fun.

Most Windows users argue that this is a good commercial, stressing the choice and availability of cheap options to Windows users.

But is it? Or is Microsoft really marketing against “their own” hardware manufacturers as well? Remember, HP (and everyone in the PC laptop market) is building more expensive laptops that this $699 device, as well – it’s not just Apple. So the message of this marketing campaign isn’t really “buy an HP instead of a Mac” – it’s “buy a cheap laptop, instead of an expensive one”.

Or, differently put: Microsoft is trying to push the message that the PC hardware is a commodity (which is true, to a degree), doesn’t really matter, and you should get the cheapest you can find – as long as it runs Windows, of course. This message doesn’t undermine Apple as much as it undermines all those companies that manufacture PCs for running Windows. And TBH, i cannot see HP and other PC manufacturers being too happy with this approach. In the end, it will hurt their business for higher-end (and thus higher-priced) hardware.

In the long run, i would expect most people who see an advantage in using Macs to stick with going for the Mac anyways (after all, those people, never, ever, made that decision based on price), while at the same time the “Windows PC” hardware market will get yet more competitive and driven towards cheaper hardware.

Which, if you think about it is really smart for Microsoft. After all, they don’t sell PC hardware. To them, PC hardware is commodity that they need people to have – the cheaper the better – so those people can put their money where it matters: into Microsoft software.

So in the end: yes. it’s probably a pretty good commercial and marketing strategy. It’s just not targeted against who you would think it is.

marc hoffman

Chief Architect and CEO here at RemObjects Software. Project Manager for Elements and lead developer of Fire, our awesome new development environment for the Mac.

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