Television Commercial Analysis

Rhetoric is used throughout the advertisement series for the Apple computers that first started coming out about a year ago. The first commercial features two men standing in an empty white room. There are no other colors, no walls, and no distractions from these two guys. One introduces himself as a Mac computer and the other introduces himself as a PC. The one claiming to be a PC is dancing, causing the Mac guy to notice his I-pod music player. This starts a conversation about how the I-pod works seamlessly with PC’s I-tunes and brings out some helpful suggestions from Mac regarding I-movie, I-photo, and I-web, which all come with Mac in a specialized package called I-life designed to make the Mac owner’s life more entertainment friendly, accessible and usable. This sets up the disparity between the two machines as PC starts listing the cool features that come in his package, including a calculator and a clock, delivered with as much pride and self-importance as he can muster. Mac provides PC with the opportunity to list more cool user-friendly features with the simple questions “What have you got?” and “Anything else?” These questions are very carefully delivered in a friendly, conversational tone that eliminates any kind of challenge or derogatory suggestion on the part of Mac but serves to point out the inadequacies of the PC. Mac, appearing to be fair-minded and friendly, simply mentions “sounds like hours of fun” without bringing any additional attention to the entertainment software already mentioned. His final statement might be considered slightly sarcastic, but is also somewhat cut off by the ending of the commercial and the display of a flat-screen monitor with the blue-backed MAC logo. Although the mood is politely friendly throughout the 30-second spot, through this dialogue, it becomes very apparent that the PC is not able to measure up to the MAC in any way possible.

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Of course, verbal clues are not the only suggestions the viewer gets that the Mac is better than the PC in this commercial. The producers played heavily on socially determined age stereotypes in selecting the actors to play each part. Mac is portrayed as a younger man, mid-20s, in casual clothing that tends to blend into the styles and attitudes of the younger generations. By contrast, PC is an older man, automatically out of touch with the wide teenage demographic this commercial is trying to reach. It’s interesting to note that at no point in the commercial does Apple ever make any kind of derogatory remark about PCs, with the possible exception of the almost sarcastic comment at the end. The entire message of Apple being better than PC is carried instead in the audience perception of young being better than old and the preference of relaxed and easy over business attire and encumbered. This way of contrasting things, such as these two people, relies on ‘binary opposition’ to convey its message. The use of these binary oppositions of young vs. old and relaxed vs. uptight are what works to convey the emotion that PCs are less desirable than Macs. Not limited to words alone, these oppositions are so culturally ingrained that they can be presented in terms of imagery, color associations, forms, and, in this case, a combination of dress, age, and overall appearance/presentation style of the individuals used.

Despite their use of a neutral background that barely recognizes a floor and neutral colors in the clothing of both men, Apple utilizes subtle cues to convey the emotion that their computers are better than PCs without actually saying so in the text of the dialogue. By paying careful attention to the value contrast of the two men – PCs in medium gray and Mac in a darkly contrasting deep grey – the advertisers can give Mac a more dominant presence in the scene on an emotional level. By appealing to socially ingrained binary oppositions such as old vs. young and relaxed vs. uptight, they are also able to appeal to the carefree attitudes of the targeted demographic range. By resisting the urge to make derogatory statements about PCs, they can convey an easy acceptance and non-judgmental approachability for all potential computer users, not just those who had realized the benefits of Macs early. Finally, by demonstrating differences in clothing style and available software packages, the advertisers make it clear which computer is the right choice for a ‘now’ generation interested in high-quality music and programs without an overemphasis on heavy gadgets and plug-ins.

Works Cited

Get a Mac.” 2007. Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Television Commercial Analysis." September 8, 2021.


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