The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.


Monday, December 1, 2008

And now a word from our sponsor...

Someone, somewhere, ranted about stupid commercials. Since I understand that commercials are not simply slapped together and tossed out without any thought, I took a bit of an issue with the term "stupid commercials". They are not stupid, not even close, but carefully crafted productions designed to induce you to remember the product name. If they fail to do that then you might call them stupid, I'd say they were just failures; somewhere, somehow, the planning went astray.

If you look into commercials and advertising, you will find that advertising firms spend a long time on each commercial and ad. They research the product, they develop strategies, they plan campaigns with more skill than most generals. They do polling on the target consumer; colors, words, graphics. They hire psychologists who help them choose all of the above and guide them on content. They hire top-notch directors to film commercials and renowned artists and photographers to design the print ads. No, nothing stupid about advertising.

Yes, some do bomb. But not because they were just slapped together and no one tried to figure out what would capture the consumers' attention. Some commercials are definitely annoying and seemingly stupid. They are that way by design. For instance, look at the Head-On commercials. Poor cinematography, blaring sound, and annoying repetition. Seems stupid but it gets the product almost burned into your brain so the next time you get a headache, or at the store looking for headaches, you will remember.

Years ago there was a series of commercials with a supermarket worker named "Mr. Whipple". The commercial was for a product called Charmin, a toilet paper. Mr. Whipple, who looked like the stereotypical store employee in his work apron, would pop up looking frustrated and angry while he castigated women shoppers (and the occasional child) for squeezing the packages of toilet paper rolls. The phrase "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" leaked into the public consciousness and became a part of the culture. The commercials were annoying because Whipple was annoying. But they worked.

All of which brings me to my vote for most annoying commercial. The Mac vs PC ad series. What bugs me about them is the snobbery inherent to the Mac guy. The PC guy is the one you are supposed to laugh at, of course, but he is also a bit lovable. The nerdy geek with a kind of silly charm. The Mac guy is supposed to be casually cool; the guy that always managed to glide through school and had the most fun; the guy who was the life of every party; the guy who the girls all thought was cute. I always hated those guys. I'm sure it was out of envy but I don't care. I always wanted them to trip over their shoelaces or spill their pudding on their shirts at lunch or some other dumb thing. So why would he ever induce me to buy a Mac? How could a guy who always managed to make the girl I was trying to impress go all googly-eyed sell me on anything? Even though I know he played a credible Trekkie-style geek named Brandon in Galaxy Quest.

And that is why I won't be buying a Mac anytime soon.

12 comments:

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Mac, I wouldn't touch one with yours... so aplasag that!

AV

Steven said...

It came time to have two "real" computers in the house, so I handed off Jorge, my beloved 17" Macbook Pro, to mi esposa, hopped on Newegg, and had a grand time buying a thousand dollars' worth of parts. Now, I'd been eying Mac Pros for the better part of a year as an elegant and powerful machine that I'd love to own...but when it came down to it, building a machine with more power for less than half the cost just couldn't be argued with.

I installed Kubuntu x64 and a copy of Vista64 that Microsoft sent me for free for some unknown reason. They've each been booted once. I had to go through the arduous and quasi-legal process of getting MacOS 10.5 running on the machine. I run Vista at work, and am constantly frustrated by Windows' lack of both power and user friendliness.

I may be an outlier case, but not only do I love to use Mac OS for it's beautiful and fluid interface, and use all the eye candy and handy productivity tricks like Exposé (man, I hate opening character map, why can't windows have easier extended character input??), but I also value macos for its power-user features. I constantly have an SSH session open to the machine, have hundreds of unix applications compiled on the machine, even 3 or 4 X11 applications that I use regularly. The little bit of web development I do is aided by the built-in Apache & PHP implementations. The free development environment is no Visual Studio, but it's quite nice, and the Interface Builder is a joy to use.

Windows isn't terrible, and Vista's definitely more user-friendly than XP. I've not done a whole lot of OSX development, and ObjectiveC isn't a fun language for me to work in. I've actually got a decently popular Windows app (iSnooze) that people email me about all the time, asking for help that I can't give them since giving up Windows for greener pastures.

Anyway, all I really wanted to say is that I don't watch TV, Mac OS is (these days) a fantastic platform for a wide range of users, and Justin Long isn't too terrible.

Douglas said...

Well, my little screed had little to do with the merits of the Mac, the PC, or Linux. It was about how to sell something to someone, why ads may be designed to be annoying, and why I think the Mac vs PC ads alienate (or, ironically, bolster a feeling of elitism in Mac users) rather than entice buyers. But, because I know you have a good feel for the internet, I have a question for you: Don't you have to design web pages and web apps with a strong appeal for PC users? That is, since they are 90% to 95% of the market, the majority of offerings must play to that market.

Douglas said...

Argentum, all I can say to that is, uh, um, er, uhhh [sigh]

Neo said...

I am not so interested in mac, but I do have some issues with xp, being its days are numbered, I wanted something else, in comes linux... Ubuntu to be exact. Is a very close (clone) to windows, doesn't cost anything, just a little time to get used to the program and what is that to a geek, spending a few hours on the computer is darn fun to us, :)

Barry said...

I agree with you completely about commercials but disagree with you about Macs and the Mac commercials.

I use PCs at work and a Mac Notebook at home. The OS X is a beautiful operating system is a joy compared to XP.

I think the thing about the Apple commercials is that they're not afraid to have a little fun.

Douglas said...

Really, Barry? So why isn't the PC guy ever made to look a little foolish?

Michael said...

They are that way by design.

That, to me, is a separate fault and is even worse.

I've always been a PC guy.

Michael.

Douglas said...

Michael, it is not a fault. Not in terms of marketing. It is a strategy, a fairly successful one. The idea is not to be a lovable, interesting, and positive package but one which insinuates the product name into your brain. However that is efficiently done is deemed a success. If that leads to increased sales of a product then it is deemed a smashing success and is replicated by others. The world of advertising often makes no sense to the layman but, then, advertising may work better because it doesn't.

Barry said...

I agree with you completely about commercials but disagree with you about Macs and the Mac commercials.

I use PCs at work and a Mac Notebook at home. The OS X is a beautiful operating system is a joy compared to XP.

I think the thing about the Apple commercials is that they're not afraid to have a little fun.

Michael said...

They are that way by design.

That, to me, is a separate fault and is even worse.

I've always been a PC guy.

Michael.

Douglas said...

Argentum, all I can say to that is, uh, um, er, uhhh [sigh]