While Steve Wozniak was rushing to an Apple store to get some help, Lauren, a quintessential average female consumer, was heading there too--part of Microsoft's bold new attempt to show the "Apple tax" in action.
In the Microsoft TV spot that just assaulted me during the Pitt-Xavier game, Lauren tells us she has needs. She needs a laptop with "speed, comfortable and a 17-inch screen for under $1,000." The voiceover tells her that if she finds it (at the Apple store or elsewhere), she can keep it--for free.
And so we follow Lauren, her fetching green scarf, and her jolly, Oregon-esque joie de vivre on her quest.
She goes to an Apple store and exits with a face suggesting that the dermatologist has given her bad news. She can only get a 13-inch screen for her money. She declares that she would have to "double her budget" to get what she wants from Apple.
She then offers the entirely unscripted line: "I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person."
Oh, Lauren, what is cool these days? Yanni? The Jonas Brothers? Jimmy Kimmel? Do any of them wear a green scarf?
You will feel a tickling sensation in several parts of your anatomy when you hear that Lauren succeeds in her quest for budget-conscious joy. She wanders into a place that looks remarkably like Best Buy, where the choirs are singing and the choices are plentiful. She settles on a Hewlett-Packard PC that fulfills all her wishes. It even offers to drive her home. Well, not quite.
The HP is such a bargain that she pays cash. Is it because she happens to have about $700 in her purse, as all average female consumers do? No, because a helpful producer hands her the money.
This is perhaps Microsoft's most aggressive declaration of an advertising war against the Mac in a long, long time. What fun that the company and its ad agency, Crispin, Porter and Bogusky, have chosen an overt price war.
It will be interesting to see just how many cash-unconscious Americans will be persuaded to accept their own lack of sidewalk credibility and venture toward the PC.
And it will be interesting whether someone might be a little upset over the clear implication that Macs cost twice as much as PCs. After all, last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggested that the Apple logo costs only $500.
And now, back to the other March Madness.