Huawei hires 'I'm a Mac' pitchman to take on Apple in US ad blitz

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2017
Actor Justin Long, who in the mid to late 2000s served as the de facto face of Apple for his part in the "Get a Mac" ad campaign, has been hired by Huawei to star in a new series of commercials touting the Chinese upstart's smartphones.




Buying the former spokesman of a major competitor to peddle your own wares is a bold move, but that's exactly what ad agency WPP Blast Radius had in mind when they approached Long for the job, reports Campaign US.

The actor's history with Apple is the primary reason he was considered, according to Blast Radius group director Jessica Grizzel.

"It certainly was key when we considered Justin as a possible partner for Huawei," Grizzel said of Long's experience with the Cupertino tech giant.

The ad agency was actually pushing for a more direct approach that would "call out" Long's relationship with Apple, but the former Mac pitchman and Huawei convinced Grizzel to reach "a nice middle ground where that idea is inferred as opposed to explicitly stated."

The first of Long's commercials for Huawei finds the actor playing himself, interviewing for a chance to direct a commercial spotlighting the company's Mate 9 smartphone. Aptly titled "The Interview," the 60-second spot has Long seated across from a Mate 9. The actor rattles off his achievements as the smartphone communicates via emoji, photos and video.

"The storyline for the video series positions Justin as a new director providing guidance to a series of Huawei products as they are looking to break into the market and make their mark," Grizzel said. "There is no doubt that Justin's history as a pitch-man for Apple adds a nice subtext to the videos and builds on Huawei's challenger position in the market."





From 2006 to 2009, Long played the part of "Mac" across John Hodgman's "PC" in the award winning "Get a Mac" ad campaign dreamed up by TBWA\Chiat\Day. Each spot started with the lines "Hello, I'm a Mac" and "I'm a PC," and pitted cool man Long against Hodgman's often bumbling character. The relationship between the two was always friendly, but Mac consistently trumped PC on everything from computer viruses to software updates. Apple's ads pitched Mac as the slick, cool computer, while PC was frumpy and past its prime.

In December, those involved with "Get a Mac" gathered to commemorate the campaign's 10th anniversary, sharing anecdotes about the production and how it came to be. For example, the team shot 323 spots, but only 66 made it to air.

Though Long has not appeared in an official Apple ad since 2009, his persona is often linked with the tech giant. Long later banked on his ties to the company in 2013 when he played late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs in a satirical biopic produced by Funny or Die.

As for Huawei, the company unseated Apple as China's top smartphone vendor in 2015 and -- like every other smartphone manufacturer -- is looking to take the mantle of world's largest handset producer. Though Apple continues to lose ground in China, iPhone doesn't show signs of ceding its rein as the world's most popular smartphone brand.

On Tuesday, Apple announced record-setting revenue of $78.4 billion for the first quarter of 2017, largely driven by 78.3 million iPhone sales, an all-time high. Tellingly, iPhone's average selling price for the quarter hit $695, another record for the company.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 72
    it's kinda funny
  • Reply 2 of 72
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,489member
    Huawei's business model requires them to get their networking infrastructure installed first and then tie sales to carriers using their technology. The US government has already stepped in twice to stall Huawei becoming part of the telecommunications backbone in the US. I suppose Trump will just continue with that policy.

    In the meantime Huawei will just have to follow a different course and market as best it can but it will be a truly formidable force down the line.
    mtefrejahbladeargonaut
  • Reply 3 of 72
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    That was.... weird.

    "as the smartphone communicates via emoji, photo and video"

    I find it pathetic when commercials use iPhone features like it differentiates the product or something. Ugly emojis and other pseudo-iPhone features make the product feel like a cheap knockoff to me.
    Reminds me of the cringey Samsung ads that used Tango for video calling because they didn't have their own version of Facetime.
    mtefreapplesauce007albegarcjas99StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 72
    irelandireland Posts: 17,552member
    The ad itself is worse than what I could make myself having never have made an ad.

    "Fireworks, is that supposed to be...". Yes, it is probably stolen directly from Messages full screen animation.
    edited February 2017 mtefrecalijahbladeargonautapplesauce007albegarcjas99watto_cobratallest skil
  • Reply 5 of 72
    Justin must be happy some random Chinese company is throwing money at him. Their execs simply do not have any clue about western culture, so the ad agency can slap any shit together and get away with it. I bet cheers were sky high in Beijing when they learned they had signed the former Apple prodigy. A clever move by WPP Blast Radius. They know how much Huawei likes to copy stuff.
    edited February 2017 jahbladeargonautjeffharrisStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 72
    As an ad it misses the mark, but that isn't surprising for a WPP agency.
    Fatmanapplesauce007watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 72
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    I wondered what had happened to that fella. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 72
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Rayz2016 said:
    I wondered what had happened to that fella. 
    "will work for food"
    jahbladeargonautFatmanjohn.blongpathjeffharrisStrangeDayswatto_cobratallest skil
  • Reply 9 of 72
    I wouldn't touch a Huawei phone with your hands, even if it ran iOS.
    revenantwatto_cobracali
  • Reply 10 of 72
    Sorry to be pedantic, but if Justin Long really did serve as Apple's face in the 'mid-to-late 2000s' he would not be born yet. 

    The mid 2000s would be around 2050, in the same way the mid 1900's would be around 1950.


    mike1nubusretrogustopalomine
  • Reply 11 of 72
    FatmanFatman Posts: 269member
    They copy the phone, OS, voice assistant, now even the commercial and the pitchman. Validation that Apple is and always will be the tech company that others aspire to be.
    albegarcwatto_cobracali
  • Reply 12 of 72
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,414member
    Did he say, "director", or, "defector"...?
    tomkarlStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 72
    Bad on so many levels - concept to script
    watto_cobracali
  • Reply 14 of 72
    Japan had been using Westerners in their product ads for a very long time (the movie "Lost in Translation" is a perfect example). The target audience is meant for the locals, not international or even U.S. Hong Kong does the same thing. Even when I was in Malaysia, Brat Pit on giant bill boards and street ads are everywhere advertising watches. China is beginning to follow the same foot steps by injecting Westerners into their ads. Its purpose is to project their brand is an international recognition.
    edited February 2017
  • Reply 15 of 72
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,489member
    I wouldn't touch a Huawei phone with your hands, even if it ran iOS.
    When you factor in bang for buck, Huawei make some superb phones. They are now creeping into the high end market.  They were first with force touch on a phone, had dual lens before Apple and innovating with gestures on the fingerprint scanners (which have been consistently faster than Apple's and extremely accurate to boot). Their Android personalisation layer is different to other classic Android approaches but not too far from iOS at first glance.

    Design wise they have put a lot of effort into turning heads. Hold a Mate S in your hand and you understand with people call the latest Apple offerings 'boring'.

    Much more importantly, and this is key, smartphones have already reached the 'good enough' zone. There are millions of people willing to come down from the top tier to something that is more than capable but not bleeding edge. When you enter that group, design is still important and that is where you find Huawei waiting for you (or the Honor sub brand). Aggressive pricing doesn't give you the same margins as Apple but that isn't the point. If you are taking people from the top tier, albeit with reduced margins, you are doing more damage to the manufacturers in that band by making them lose the sale. Obviously Huawei is digging it's teeth into the Android high end market after having taken the middle ground by storm but it is getting ever closer to Apple users too. However, the US has been off limits so far. It has done spectacularly well in Europe and China but they have their sights on the US you can be sure.
    edited February 2017 gatorguyalbegarc
  • Reply 16 of 72
    lol
  • Reply 17 of 72
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 677member
    Oh, what?! I'd call this a bland move, not bold. Another company using copy and paste to assume Apple's talent. Hint: takes more than mimicry to deliver a good product.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 72
    Soulless nonsense. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 72
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,852member
    Japan had been using Westerners in their product ads for a very long time (the movie "Lost in Translation" is a perfect example). The target audience is meant for the locals, not international or even U.S. Hong Kong does the same thing. Even when I was in Malaysia, Brat Pit on giant bill boards and street ads are everywhere advertising watches. China is beginning to follow the same foot steps by injecting Westerners into their ads. Its purpose is to project their brand is an international recognition.
    Difference here is the commercial is targeted at the US market, not China.
  • Reply 20 of 72
    This is no different from the "Can You Hear Me Now?" actor who ran to his next paycheck, betraying his former employer and 100% capitalizing on his own notoriety which was created by a different ad agency. Hey, I know an actor has gotta eat... but have a little spine!
    edited February 2017 retrogustoStrangeDays
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