"I'm A MAC" and "I'm A PC" Branding Lessons

As someone who works in advertising, I often watch commercials… looking for ideas, successes, failures and trends I can use to help my clients.
One series that’s been running for a while now are those smart, carefully crafted ads for the Apple Mac — a mere 30 seconds of wit and white space that prove a visually simple, consistently applied branding strategy can work. And work quite well.
Of course the ads, irreverent and humorous as they are, poke fun at PC’s and their… well… stodginess by pitting two perfectly cast characters against each other. Mac, played ably by actor Justin Long, and PC brought to life by actor/writer John Hodgman present the two ccompanies and their products in a very unique way. No tech talk… no promises or price cuts… just simple, head to head comparison of one product against another.
Being a die hard Mac user, I always saw Long as getting the best of poor, misguided Hodgman.
But of late the ads have changed… the two most recent in the Apple series poking fun directly at Microsoft’s advertising campaign (the one with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates wandering the country, to be followed by the confusing “I’m a PC” series). I’m guessing the Apple ad execs could not pass up the chance to make fun of their rivals marketing mishaps.
And then, it would be good if Microsoft spent more on fixing it’s products than advertising them. 
The technology press and others online are convinced the latest additions to the campaign are a little too “inside” for us average Joe’s (or Jane’s). After viewing the ads in question, I was delighted to find that they continue to deliver, loud and clear, the brand message that Apple is cool… smarter… better. 
So as you work to brand your own business, look for inspiration to the techniques used by these two computer giants. Simple, straightforward messaging. Content that assumes some level of intelligence and a sense of humor. Not a lot of visual distraction. Consistent use of the concept over several years.
After all, if it works for them, why not for you???