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Reality Fail

March 30th, 2009

9to5 Mac points out (TechFlash and others caught this too) that the Microsoft ad didn’t even try very hard for authenticity when it came to “real person” Lauren’s “visit” to the “Mac store” (it’s an Apple store). Below are two screen grabs from the commercial, one each of Lauren “going in” to the store and “coming out” of the store. Note the pedestrians around her:


As she walks “into” the store, there’s a guy with a dark jacket, horizontal-stripe shirt, blue jeans, and a camera on a strap walking past the store from right to left, and you can see a reflection of a guy in blue denim with a white shirt hanging out from under his jacket reflected in the window, walking toward the store. And then, after supposedly checking out those Macs in great detail, she comes out:


This is shot from a different angle to give the impression that time has passed. But the guy in the dark jacket is only a twenty or thirty feet forward from where he was, and the guy with the white shirt sticking out of his blue denim jacket is now at the store, going in.

Clearly, they just had two cameras, shot Lauren walking toward the store, then had her do an about-face and walk right back out. Probably figured that the mall people would object to filming on the premises if they hung around long enough for her to actually look at stuff–which, one can assume, was not really part of the plan.

Microsoft claims that the woman, who is an “office manager and actress,” didn’t know she’d be in a commercial. Apparently the cameras following her around weren’t a big enough hint. Maybe her “real” investigation of Macs actually took her three seconds. And the fact that she’s an actress doesn’t mean that she’s not a real person, but it does add to the fact that she has been hired by Microsoft to be filmed buying a Windows computer that will be paid for by the filmers. Very “real.”

How is this important? It’s not, really, just somewhat snarky, is all. If they’re going to fake a “real person” they should at least go to a bit more trouble to make sure it’s not quite so transparent.

This also follows up on the previous “Mojave Experiment” campaign where Microsoft took XP users off the street and showed them Vista but pretended that it was their next Windows version called “Mojave.” This also depended on a certain level of fraud–the “wow” demo was under carefully controlled conditions that masked all of the shortcomings of the OS. The point is that Microsoft goes to a lot of trouble to point out how their “real people” are having a “real experience” which is so positive with PCs–but apparently don’t trust their product enough to truly be real.

If they want to do a genuine ad, then have real interviews–there are enough people out there who could make a decent argument that would look good, not to mention classy. Sit them down in a chair and interview them (remember the “switcher” ads from Apple a while back, where people did more or less that?). Have them talk about real needs for what PCs can do for them. Have a gamer or a businessman talk about how the Mac just doesn’t have what he needs, or a person on a budget who needs just the basic Internet and word processing without the frills. Have someone discuss how they’ve been hit hard and right now, money really is their number-one priority.

Not that the Lauren ad won’t work–it’s just pretty easy to take down on the “authenticity” front alone. With many real points to make in favor of PCs, why set up a fake claim that can so readily be proven false?

UPDATE: They found Lauren. Her name is Lauren De Long, who is conveniently under a non-disclosure agreement with Microsoft forbidding her to speak to anyone about the commercial–or, presumably, her subsequent experiences with the laptop she bought.

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