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Archie Heaton: Intel’s marketing agency had a terrible idea…

Intel’s marketing agency just had a terrible idea.

In response to Apple slowly removing Intel chips from their Mac line-up in favour of their own (far superior) silicon, they hired Justin Long to revive his famous role from the classic ‘Mac vs PC’ ads. But wait, there’s a twist – he’s now arguing, less convincingly, that you should get a PC.

Yes, you read that right: to fight the public perception that Apple are better than them, they remade one of Apple’s most famous ads. Reminding us how cool Apple are, and how uncool they are.

While the original spots were punchy, genuinely funny and glamourised the Mac’s position as the underdog, Intel’s clones are creatively hollow and lack any real bite. More tragically still, they mark the first public shots in a war that Apple already won in its R&D labs at least half a decade ago.

Moreover, it’s missed opportunity for what could have been a showcase for the marketing industry. In the past, sheer creative brilliance from adland has more than compensated for technical inferiority with, for example, Beats by Dre owing its success to their ad planners and creative directors, rather than to its sound engineers.

Lastly, the episode underlines a trend that will continue to shape the world economy and broader society, including marketing agencies, for the foreseeable future – the tech industry’s seemingly unstoppable conglomeration. If anything, this snowball effect seems to be gathering pace, as everyone from start-ups to industry stalwarts continue to be absorbed by technological juggernauts like Facebook and Google.

Paradoxically, as these corporate beasts plough ahead with their digitalisation of the ad industry – vacuuming up most of the profits in the process – they’re also some of the only organisations with pockets deep enough, and horizons long enough, to invest in true brand thinking and creative risk taking.

Just like Intel, many marketing firms are under threat from investments that have already been made by tech giants like Apple. But, unlike Intel, we can’t afford to try and give them the middle finger because, while we’re annoyed they’ve stolen our lunch, we’re still hungry for their crumbs.

Archie Heaton is a brand consultant.

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