I’m a PC, and I’m Kind of Obnoxious. And/or Creepy.

By  |  Friday, November 7, 2008 at 7:29 pm

I’m not as good about taking public transportation around San Francisco as I should be, but for the past three days I’ve been attending the Web 2.0 Summit conference at the Palace hotel, which is right upstairs from the Montgomery St. subway stop. So I’ve been riding to and fro each day, and spending time in the station. Which, at the moment, has devoted every single bit of its advertising real-estate to ads in Microsoft’s “I’m a PC” series, part of its “Life Without Walls” campaign for Windows.

If you’ll recall the TV component of the campaign, you may remember that the folks in it were a pretty wholesome bunch. Inspiring, even: an astronaut, a South African teacher and her students, a farmer, an underwater explorer, and several brainy geek types (including Bill Gates himself). They made the PC seem like a force for good.

Strangely enough, the “I’m a PC” folk in the subway ads are a distinctly different bunch. Most of them scowl. They threaten. They’re a little too into themselves. I don’t want to spend any time with most of them than I have to. (I apologize if I’m overthinking all this, but I’ve spent a lot of time staring at them while waiting for trains.)

After the jump, a gallery of Microsoft’s mass-transit spokespeople. (My apologies for the quality of the photography–subways aren’t great places to take snapshots, especially when you’re worried that a transit cop might assume you’re a terrorist.)

I’m a PC, and I’m a dour celebrity gamer with a name that references death. Oh, and I’m merciless:


I’m a PC, and I’m a professional motocross rider–and my billboard also references death:


I’m a PC, and I’m a professional Ultimate Fighter who wants to beat the crud out of you:


I’m a PC, and I’m kind of in love with myself:


I’m a PC, and I did appear in the TV campaign. Oh, and I want to deface your property:


I’m a PC, and I met Dane Cook. And I’m making a vague, non-conformist statement:


I’m a PC, and I’m Deepak Chopra. I’m spouting psychobabble, but at least I’m not threatening:


The above ads are plastered all over the concourse floor at the BART station. When you descend to the platform, you’re still surrounded by “I’m a PC” ads, but they’re different ones, with a subtle difference: I’m more concerned about the people in them harming themselves than harming me.

I’m a PC, and I prefer the company of parrots to my fellow humans:


I’m a PC, and I’ve declined to buy a Zune in favor of surrounding myself with thousands of LPs:


We’re a couple of kids in a mysterious pose with bikes, laptops, and giant loudspeakers, and the slogan doesn’t quite work, since there are two of us:


So there you go. One of the overarching goals of this whole campaign is presumably to fight back against Apple’s original “I’m a PC” ads and their portrayal of the PC as a hopelessly square goofball. But I know this: If I were going to be locked in a room for a month with any of these “I’m a PC” people. I’d prefer John Hodgman to any of Microsoft’s PCs…



8 Comments For This Post

  1. Matt Sharpe Says:

    I have to agree with you there. I haven’t seen any “I’m a PC” adverts in the UK yet but having seen these I think thats probably a good thing.

  2. Top Real Estates Says:

    I have looked over your blog a few times and I love it.

  3. Anne Says:

    I’m a PC and I need a new ad agency.

  4. NanoGeek Says:

    I think that Microsoft should just forget about this ad campaign. At least the Gates/Seinfeld ads looked professional. But Microsoft’s new “user created” videos running at 10 fps with a guy saying that he’s a PC and he likes pancakes just doesn’t attract many new customers.

  5. Leonardo Says:

    “I think…”

    Who cares?

    It’s they’re company. They can do whatever they want with it.

  6. marty_k Says:

    I actually liked Fatal1ty’s appearance in MS adverts. He’s well recognized and uses PC to its limits. Good fit, imo.

  7. Charles Forsythe Says:

    This is a familiar evolution of message.

    First, they claim to be the more “serious” option. The competition is “unserious” and should not be considered by rational people.

    If that fails, they go populist. They claim that they are the option for “real” people. People who choose the competition are outsiders who reject the values that all the “real” people share.

    Next up? The smears. “iPods pal around with terrorists,” and “MacBooks are socialist.”

    And despite what many right-wing pundits were saying as last as November 3rd, then next step is NOT, “…and then you win!”

  8. Arden Says:

    1. Monopolize an industry.
    2. Buy up or otherwise shut out all your competition.
    3. Sell tons of crappy software that needs constant updates for no good reason.
    4. PROFIT!
    6. Uh… profit again!
    7. Um… Apple’s cutting into our profit margins… let’s mimic them, but not in a way people can relate to!
    8. Pro… ah crap, that failed. Let’s think of something else.

    I saw these ads today at that station, and I was sorely tempted to start smashing them in with my Razor scooter. The fear of arrest ensured their solidarity.