How Apple is Outmaneuvering PCs in Brand Warfare

Apple’s Mac vs PC ads seems to be moving the needle on perceptions of the PC as evidenced by their significant growth in market share. 

An article in Computer World states “According to Gartner Inc.’s preliminary estimates, Apple sold 1.64 million machines during the period, a 29% increase year-to-year over the same period in 2007, to put it in third place behind Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. For the quarter, Apple accounted for 9.5% of all the machines sold in the U.S, up from 8.1% a year ago and 8.5% last quarter.” 

Let’s look at how Apple has been able to execute a strategy that effectively attacks the competition. 

Firstly, Apple actually attacks the category they are in, since an Apple computer is technically a personal computer. Apple has positioned themselves as being so different than other PCs that they should be in their own separate category. When Apple attacks their competition, they attack the whole category which is quite rare in marketing. Usually we see the smaller brands singling out the leader and attacking them, but not one brand positioning themselves against the whole category. I can only think of one other example of this, in which 7-Up successfully differentiated themselves against the other carbonated soft drinks by proclaiming themselves the “Uncola”. Additionally, Apple attacks the PC in a humorous way, often making fun of the PC’s vulnerabilities to viruses, the difficulty of use, and so on. The audience views these ads very favorably, while they are associating a lot of negative attributes to the public perception of PCs. Recently when Microsoft tried to counter the attacks by showing various people saying they are a PC, Apple responded by directly attacking Microsoft’s disappointing Vista.  

This is classic brand warfare and Apple’s superior marketing strategy is key to its growth in sales. While it would be difficult to duplicate the campaign’s success, there are valuable lessons that marketers can learn from Apple’s success. Instead of directly attacking a specific brand, attack whole category to differentiate your brand from the rest of the category. When attacking others, do so in a light-hearted way, as it can preserve a favorable image while still undermining your competition. But when a competitor fires a counter shot, respond immediately with equal or greater force. 

Image Source Joi

1 Comment

  1. Graham Brown

    11.07.2008

    Reply

    Hi, interesting food for thought. Everyone talks about how great brands such as Apple, Toyota, BMW etc achieve what they are able to achieve through technological innovation but I’d like to suggest it has a lot more to do with the fundamentals – good customer service and a culture of trustworthiness. These underscore their customer loyalty. Trust is key in the success of brands such as Apple, Nike etc over their untrusted rivals.

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