Intel tries to bash Apple again with a terrible ‘social experiment’ ad

Intel tries to bash Apple again with a terrible ‘social experiment’ ad

I regret to inform you that Intel has again made a terrible ad to showcase how absolutely not mad it is about Apple switching to its own processors. This one, called “Breaking the Spell,” follows a classic format — people are put in a room and told about features supposedly coming to MacBooks. Then, after they get all excited, the twist! They were actually being told about Windows computers, powered (of course) by Intel. The folks in the ad (which the fine print says are “real people paid for their time and opinions”) are speechless and then clamor to buy or take the laptops, presumably now that they’ve awoken to the possibilities of the PC.

It’s an ad format that’s never been great, but the real kicker is that it makes absolutely no sense here — in the intro, Intel claims it’s showing off “new technology” and “innovations” and then proceeds to show people absolutely gobsmacked by tech that is old news by almost any standard.

If you’re brave, you can give it a watch below.

I know that when it comes to tech news, there can be somewhat of a bubble, with writers and readers thinking that certain things are more well-known to the general public than they are. But really, if you’ve walked into Best Buy’s laptop section at some point in the past decade, you probably would’ve seen some of the things the people in the ad are shell-shocked by: two-in-one laptops that fold to become a tablet have been popular since the early 2010s, Intel’s been pushing laptops with two screens since 2018, and PC gaming was a thing before the original IBM Personal Computer that popularized the term “PC.”

To be fair, secret rooms are always pretty cool (unless they’re serial killer dungeons, I guess).
Image: Intel

As for Intel’s upgradability argument, I agree. While I understand that Apple building RAM into the same chip as the processor probably has some performance benefit, it does bite that you can’t upgrade — especially when M1 laptops start with a paltry 8GB and carry a $200 charge for the 16GB upgrade. The problem is, though, that there’s a high chance that the Windows laptop this ad inspires you to buy will also have unremovable and non-upgradeable memory. While you can find Windows laptops with swappable RAM or SSDs, nowadays, that’s a notable feature rather than an expected one.

Perhaps this ad would be at least closer to forgivable if it wasn’t a mashup of another series of ads Intel made featuring “I’m a Mac” actor Justin Long (which people hated) and those Chevy truck commercials (which people also hated).

The like to dislike ratio for Intel’s new ad. Lots of people still spellbound, I guess.

The ratio for Intel’s “Justin Gets Real: Having Choices” ad.

Wait, actually, yes, it would still suck — because Intel’s bragging about things you can find in laptops with chips from its other competitor, AMD. There are 2-in-1s rocking Ryzen chips, and our top gaming laptop for 2021 has both an AMD CPU and a slot to add more RAM. “But what about dual-screen laptops with AMD,” asked probably no one because it’s a niche product category. Asus has you covered.

I don’t want this criticism to come off as being done by a butthurt Apple fan who’s, as one person in the ad put it, “100 percent loyal to Apple.” (Who talks like that?) While I mostly use Apple products, I’m also an unabashed old ThinkPad lover who thinks Intel has a point — if you can look past how condescending and embarrassing this ad campaign is. I do wish Apple gave people more choice and more upgradability with its computers, and I think people should be more willing to give other computing platforms a shot if they fit their needs better. But does an ad full of people acting like they’ve never seen a computer convince anyone of that?

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