Why I hate Intel's attack ads on Apple's M1 MacBooks

Samsung Galaxy Book S
Samsung Galaxy Book S (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Intel recently launched a series of ads starring Justin Long, who famously featured in Apple's "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ads back in the day. Long was a Mac back then, but now he's just a... Justin, according to the ads.

The ads have been met with pushback across the web, and I'm among their detractors. Marketing is all about drawing attention to your products, so maybe writing a post breaking down why I hate the new Intel ads is counterproductive, but here we are.

Turncoats are clever

Before I dive into what I hate about the ads, I want to clarify what doesn't bother me about them. I don't have an issue with Intel hiring Long to feature in ads attacking Apple, which he previously advertised for. In fact, I love when companies do that. Sprint hired Paul Marcarelli, known as the "Can you hear me now?" guy for Verizon at one point. Taco Bell also hired several people named Ronald McDonald to say how much they love Taco Bell breakfast, which is brilliant.

My first issue is that Long didn't fully switch sides. He didn't switch from being a Mac to being a PC. He's now Justin for Intel, which isn't a clear third side in the war between Windows and Mac.

Intel vs. Mac or Mac vs. PC?

The new Intel ads feature comparisons between Intel-powered PCs and Apple's MacBooks running the M1 chip. They don't, however, really pit Intel vs. the M1. Instead, they're mostly comparing Windows to macOS.

One ad highlights how a certain Intel-powered PC can flip around between a tablet and a laptop. Of course, there are plenty of Intel-powered devices that do that, but it's not exclusive to Intel. Windows 10 on ARM PCs running Qualcomm chips are often convertibles as well.

Many of the best AMD Ryzen laptops also have touchscreens. Again, no Intel in those. You'll even see devices, like the Galaxy Book S, that have options with Qualcomm chips or Intel chips inside, showing again that most of these features aren't specific to Intel devices.

You'll also notice that Intel doesn't compare Intel-powered PCs to Intel-powered Macs.

You can still get Intel-powered Macs

Intel Macbooks Page

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

While Apple is moving over to its own silicon, you can still purchase Macs powered by Intel chips. Even when Apple stops selling Intel-powered MacBooks, they'll still be around. One of the best things about MacBooks is that they can last for years. It will be a long time before all Macs are running on something other than Intel.

Why doesn't the ad show someone trying to touch the screen of an Intel-powered MacBook? Why not talk about how there aren't any Intel-powered MacBooks that can flip around into different modes? The answer is obvious, but it still just seems weird to be critical of Macs when making chips for Macs.

I understand why Intel is pushing Intel-powered PCs. The bridge between Intel and Apple is on fire. They're throwing gasoline on that fire and moving on rather than waiting for it to burn down. Intel also benefits greatly from people using Windows PCs instead of Macs in the longterm.

While you can get Windows PCs running Qualcomm or AMD chips, hundreds of millions of PCs are powered by Intel. If Intel can convince you to get a PC because it has a touchscreen, you're still fairly likely to get an Intel-powered device, which is the goal of the ads.

Half truths and odd attacks

Before the series of video ads starring Long, Intel shared a series of ads on Twitter. These ads follow the structure, "If you can blank then you're not on a Mac. Go PC." They echo the age-old argument that people who get work done have PCs.

While the ads hold some truth, some of them are only partially accurate. Take this one about rockets, for example.

While it is true that you can no longer play Rocket League on a Mac, some of the work done to coordinate the Mars Perseverance landing was done using MacBooks. If you watch the stream of the landing, you'll see a mixture of Macbooks and other devices in use. It seems odd to specifically mention powering rockets when NASA uses some MacBooks.

A Mac attack that's not up to scratch

Enjoying ads s subjective, so I'm not claiming to be the authority on how to make an attack ad. I just feel like Intel missed the mark when it comes to these ads. There are some Intel devices powering great things, which I think could be highlighted, but ads mixing up the messaging on Macs is confusing. Even if you prefer attack ads, there are better ways to attack Macs than this.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.