Intel has doubled down on its marketing blitz to persuade buyers that PCs are better than Macs, but this time there’s a twist. As MacRumors spotted, the chipmaker has recruited Justin Long, the cool “I’m a Mac” guy from Apple’s Mac vs. PC commercials, in a series of new ads it released today called “Justin Gets Real.”
Each ad is less than a minute long and covers the advantages that PC laptops have over MacBooks. The best part about each of them is how they start. Justin Long is casually dressed in jeans and a button-down collared shirt, standing against a white background, and opens with a familiar line:
“Hello, I’m a...Justin. Just a real person doing a real comparison between Mac and PC.”
I can’t help but snicker. Justin Long, sir, you are an actor being paid to convince people that Intel-based laptops are better than Apple’s new M1 laptops. (Unrelated side note, but every time I see your face I think about your Tusk character sewn into the walrus suit, and that image will haunt me for the rest of my life.) The script isn’t new, either. It’s the same warmed over talking points Intel has been pushing for a month or so now. As you may recall, Apple recently ditched Intel for its own homegrown chips, and to say Intel is mad is...putting it mildly.
But I actually agree with most of the points Intel lays out in its new ads. The company makes some good points and outlines why I myself am still a PC user, even if Apple’s M1 processors are seriously impressive. (And I’m glad to see Justin Long join the PC side.)
Apple does not sell 2-in-1 laptops, so Mac users who also want the convenience of a tablet have to buy each separately instead of a do-it-all device like Lenovo’s Yoga 7i, which costs $1,149 when it’s not on sale. A 13-inch MacBook pro starts at $1,299, and a base-model iPad starts at $329. But it’s not like Apple can make a 2-in-1 anyway when its MacBooks don’t even have touchscreens, a feature Apple swears it’s never going to include in its laptops. You want to save money? Go with Intel.
But price isn’t everything. If you’re used to macOS, you’ll be less inclined to switch to a new operating system just to avoid the learning curve. Convenience is worth spending extra money sometimes, and it’s a powerful tool for locking people inside the Apple ecosystem. I don’t think these ads are going to have an effect on those people.
To be fair to Intel, getting Justin Long to hit back at Apple now that the company has ditched its processors for good is hilarious. It’s a great call-back to Apple’s 2006-2009 ad campaign that made fun of Windows PCs for being more prone to viruses and lacking magnetic connectors on their power cords, among other things. Apple has been making fun of PCs for a long time, starting all the way back in 1984 with a Super Bowl commercial poo-pooing IBM clones. Apple’s marketing bread and butter has mostly been about standing out from look-a-like PCs, but as this new Intel ad points out, Apple’s computers aren’t as unique as they once were.
The only new Intel ad I don’t agree with is its PC gaming ad. Yes, you can technically game on Intel’s 11th-gen mobile chips with integrated Tiger Lake graphics, but you still need to turn the resolution down to 720p to get close to 60 frames a second. Plus, with the advent of cloud gaming, you can now game on a Mac. Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna are available on macOS and/or iOS, with Microsoft’s xCloud supposedly rolling out to iOS devices this year.
But the real question is: Who are these new Intel ads aimed at? Those of us who remember seeing Apple’s commercials on cable TV will get the joke, but will a freshman college student trying to decide between a Mac or a PC? Will they even recognize Justin Long, whose most notable acting roles include Dodgeball, Waiting, and Idiocracy, and were released about 15 years ago?
The Intel ads are a little funny, if you remember Apple’s old ad campaign, and rightfully point out the things that Apple lacks, but damn, Intel, way to put your pettiness on display.