APPLE DITCHES ‘MAC GUY’ IN NEW ADS

Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign is almost perfect: It’s funny, memorable, and efficiently lays out the advantages of Macs over PCs. Its only defect: Virtually everyone who watches it comes away liking the “PC guy” while wanting to push the “Mac guy” under a bus.

Small wonder, then, that as Apple prepares a new batch of commercials, “Mac guy”—aka Justin Long, of Dodgeball and Herbie: Fully Loaded semi-fame—is nowhere to be found. A rep for Long confirms that his days as an Apple pitchman are over: “Every ad you see Justin in is for that previous time period only,” she tells Radar. “There’s no long-term deal with him.” She adds (somewhat implausibly, perhaps), “Justin’s a movie star, not a commercial guy.”

Meanwhile, the campaign’s other principals, director Phil Morrison and journo-humorist John Hodgman, are both returning for another round of spots, according to sources. Reps for Morrison and TBWA\Chiat\Day (Apple’s ad agency) all declined to comment, and Hodgman’s rep could only confirm that new ads were in the works.

Why was Long dropped, specifically? Perhaps for striking people as a “smug little twit,” in the words of Seth Stevenson, ad critic for Slate. Long, he adds, is “just the sort of unshaven, hoodie-wearing, hands-in-pockets hipster we’ve always imagined when picturing a Mac enthusiast…. It’s like Apple is parodying its own image while also cementing it.” Of the polymathic Hodgman, who has drawn acclaim for his work on The Daily Show and NPR’s This American Life as well as his book, The Areas of My Expertise, Stevenson writes, “Even as he plays the chump in these Apple spots, his humor and likability are evident.”

Shouldn’t a computer company have known that geeky is the new cool?

UPDATE: Whether or not he strikes viewers as a smug twit, Long will appear in at least one more batch of ads before his deal with Apple runs out. According to his agent, David Guillod, Long is in the midst of shooting Mac’s holiday campaign with Hodgman and Morrison. Shoots took place Monday and Tuesday, and more are planned for next week.