Thursday, January 17, 2008

And Speaking of the NYT

I don't know how long this'll last, but at the moment, the front (i.e., home) page of the NY Times pushes the boundaries of Web advertising. I can take ads on the NYT's home page, even right up at the top, but the resemblance of part of the ad to a headline gave me a moment of pause.

Well, it's one of those delightful Mac ads, so it's hard to be too much of a curmudgeon about it. It turns out to be an animated ad, in which the characters from the right-hand graphic eventually intrude into the fake banner headline. The sound is optional, and thankfully, off by default, but it's worth turning on once. Also, good on whomever for not making the ad into an endless loop.

In the end, I'm okay with it, despite my initial reaction. Gotta pay for these free sites somehow.

Two screenshots below. Click the images to enlarge.

NYT front page ad

NYT front page ad, a little later


Adam said...

"Delightful" is one word to be used to describe the Mac/PC ads. Others would be "played out months and months ago," "insufferable," and "infuriating."

They were sort of funny when they began (although since John Hodgman is much, much more likeable than the slacker/stoner/loser Justin Long they were ineffective, at least to my mind) but they have long since worn out their welcome. They have been on for 2006. In addition to having a much more likable actor cast as PC, I'd also point out that in many cases (especially early in the series) they make totally bogus points about macs versus PC's. Like the "clever" one where Mac can speak Japanese because PC's can't do plug and play with cameras but Macs can... uhh, well, yea, PC's can. An the thing about PC's needing to have lots of software loaded before they'd boot... perhaps that was true in 1987, but not 20 years later.

Lame, on all fronts.

bjkeefe said...

Fair enough.

I suppose it might help if you know about me that I almost never watch TV, which means I've probably seen the Mac/PC ads fewer than twenty times in my life. So, that joke hasn't gone stale for me yet, but I do cop to forgetting how the rest of the world lives, on this point.

If you know Hodgman, well, yeah, of course you're going to say that he's the cool one. (In fact, I would say that one thing possibly more tiresome than those ads is the number of people who feel compelled to point out that Hodgman is the cool one. Let it go, people.)

Plus, I've always had a special place in my heart for Justin Long, and I love the irony of his having gotten a role as the cool kid when I first knew him as the über-dork.

Even if you don't know Hodgman, I think one of the reasons for the success of those ads is that his character has always been sympathetic. Apple has long had a brilliantly managed image -- they show themselves as being superior in taste, but not mean about it. I doubt you agree, but I think much of the consumer world sees them that way.

I haven't seen the "speaking Japanese" commercial, but I think you're right about PCs dealing with digitial cameras as easily as Macs.

I'm not sure where you're coming from on the "PCs needing to have lots of software loaded before they'd boot" point. For at least five years, I've maintained a policy of Masterful Indifference regarding the Mac vs PC holy wars, but I will point out a few things:

o PCs do take longer to boot than Macs. It's hard to be rigorous in this comparison, but I've owned a variety of both kinds of boxes, from Win95 (actually, since DOS 3.22, but let's not go there) and OS 9 up to WinXP and OS X 10.4, and played with Vista, and the Macs do boot faster, in my experience, especially when the hardware specs are comparable.

o Both load a fair amount of system services at the start, and I wouldn't care to guess which does more, but

o The typical new PC comes loaded with crapware that loads at boot time, which the typical home user has little idea how to disable and uninstall.

Maybe you meant that some of those ads imply that you need to buy extra software to accomplish anything of use on a PC compared to a Mac? Given the wonderful world of downloadable free software, I'd say you'd be right on this point -- there's no longer any need to spend dime one to jazz up your PC. But I still believe that, out of the box, Macs do more than PCs, especially from the perspective of the proverbial Aunt Mary type of user.

Or, come to that, wannabe cool art student type of user.

Adam said...

The ad in question: here.

The point of the ad I was talking about was that PC's can't do stuff out of the box. It's true that a barebones PC doesn't come with stuff like movie editing software and most don't have built in webcams (of course, I'm sure you could get a PC with those peripherals and that software for about half of what a new Mac costs) but the part about having to "read a lot of manuals" and "load a bunch of drivers" stopped being valid probably 5 or more years before they made that ad. I have used a ton of peripherals with PC's and it is a very rare case that the hardware doesn't work in a plug and play fashion. This is especially true with common things like printers and stuff. Sure I had to install the drivers off a CD when I wanted to attach my MIDI keyboard to my PC, but I doubt that Mac would do this without the CD either (since the CD noted it had both Mac and PC versions of the software).

A minor complaint, really, but the major complaint is that these ads have been running for so long and so frequently that the joke has worn very, very thin.

bjkeefe said...

No argument there.