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Apple’s 'I’m a Mac' Guy Switches Sides in New Intel Ads

Actor Justin Long in front of Macs and Intel Laptops
(Image credit: Intel)

Remember Justin Long, the “I’m a Mac” guy from Apple’s old Mac vs PC ad campaign from the mid-2000s? Well, now it seems he’s switched sides since he’s starring in a new series of “I’m a Justin” videos that are part of Intel’s new “Go PC” ad campaign.

Titled “Justin Gets Real,” the series opens each of its videos with Justin standing in front of the typical white background from the old Mac vs PC ads while music reminiscent of those old commercials plays. Justin then says, “I’m a...Justin, just a real person doing a real comparison between Mac and PC,” and the ad continues.

Obviously, the goal here is to bank on nostalgia, but with a new (questionable, of course) feeling of fairness, all while joking that PCs have gotten so good that the “Mac guy” has switched sides. It’s a clever gambit, but like the print ads that came before it, it falters by ignoring the real reason behind these ads.

That, of course, would be Apple’s new M1 chip. Apple’s move to its own Arm-based processors means that Intel is now synonymous with PC, but that’s not what these “Justin Gets Real” ads focus on. Instead of talking about the difference between Intel processors and Apple processors, they hype up PC-exclusive features that Intel was totally fine with Apple not supporting back when it was on Mac, too.

These include ads about the lack of Mac convertibles or the existence of unique PC laptops like the Asus Zenbook Duo. Again, innovations that have nothing to do with Intel but are now coincidentally synonymous with the brand since Intel is now only available on PCs.

But Macs have their own unique advantages as well, like long battery life or powerful fanless designs, something that Mac users have been quick to point out on other Go PC ads. 

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While there’s a conversation to be had about Mac’s limited selection of devices, the selling points of specific builds have little to do with Intel specifically. Some of the PC features these ads focus on, like gaming, are simply not something much of the Mac audience is looking for. And the ads also ignore that while, yes, Mac isn’t the best platform for gaming, that was still true when Macs used Intel.

All of which flies in the face of the angle of fairness that Intel’s aiming for by presenting actor Justin Long as a newly liberated individual making real choices, as opposed to the “Mac guy.”

This probably explains why these ads all have a more than 80% dislike ratio on YouTube. Top comments are frequently bringing up the word “desperate,” as well.

What’s more, the timing for this ad campaign also eerily mirrors Apple bringing back actor John Hodgman, who played the “PC Guy” in its old ads, for its M1 Mac announcements. While Hodgman was still playing up a villain there, Intel’s new Justin Long ads make it pretty easy to imagine a strange, new (beautiful?) world where the Mac and PC guys have both swapped sides.

Michelle Ehrhardt

Michelle Ehrhardt is an editor at Tom's Hardware. She's been following tech since her family got a Gateway running Windows 95, and is now on her third custom-built system. Her work has been published in publications like Paste, The Atlantic, and Kill Screen, just to name a few. She also holds a master's degree in game design from NYU.

  • waltc3
    Still can't figure this out...Surely Intel knows that Apple isn't putting a dent in its x86 CPU sales! What's all the angst about Crapple? Sounds like some kind of childish, venomous revenge because Apple dropped them. AMD is eating Intel alive--and they talk about Apple, as if Mac users have ever cared about what CPU is in their Macs...;) It's really hilarious to think back on how Jobs ran Intel CPUs down at every turn--prior to moving Apple to the Intel CPUs he had talked trash about for years...! I really do think that Intel is sorely pissed at the resources they consumed to keep Apple happy, and then they got jilted and dumped...;) Intel has many, many internal management problems, obviously.
    Reply
  • atomicWAR
    waltc3 said:
    Still can't figure this out...Surely Intel knows that Apple isn't putting a dent in its x86 CPU sales! What's all the angst about Crapple? Sounds like some kind of childish, venomous revenge because Apple dropped them. AMD is eating Intel alive--and they talk about Apple, as if Mac users have ever cared about what CPU is in their Macs...;) It's really hilarious to think back on how Jobs ran Intel CPUs down at every turn--prior to moving Apple to the Intel CPUs he had talked trash about for years...! I really do think that Intel is sorely pissed at the resources they consumed to keep Apple happy, and then they got jilted and dumped...;) Intel has many, many internal management problems, obviously.

    Well lets be honest. Intel has always been a childish bully. BUT so has Apple. It was only a matter of time before these two had their playground rumble.
    Reply
  • cyrusfox
    Its called marketing. Charlie has a pretty good take of this on Twitter, I got half a chuckle seeing they got the old Apple guy to do this



    Humorous youttube comments as well. Brand loyalty is a strange religion.
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    An act of intolerable act of applestasy!
    Reply
  • Loadedaxe
    Same old Intel, reusing old tech (actors too)
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    It's just advertising. And it's working. It got published on a news site and you saw it.
    Reply
  • husker
    I'm pretty sure Justin Long is a "I like getting paid to be an actor in commercials" guy.
    Reply