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Mac-PC-Linux Spoofs: Why We Didn’t Say “SUSE Linux” and more

Among all the background I previously provided about the “Get a Mac” spoofs that Novell produced for BrainShare, there are some other choices that we made that I did not explain in my previous post.

A few insightful people have commented to me that it was interesting that we did not insert “SUSE Linux” into the mix, but instead we just used the name “Linux.”

We chose to go with “Linux” deliberately. Inside Novell, there were a couple people who suggested that we consider using the name “SUSE Linux,” but we didn’t give it much consideration. We wanted to make a video that would have broader appeal–something that the Linux community could enjoy as a whole. Indeed, using “SUSE Linux” would have blown the video’s impact completely, and seemed rather pretentious for a company that really doesn’t need to call itself further into question with the free software community. (And how silly and complicated would it have been to imply that there’s also someone named “Red Hat” or “Fedora,” and someone else named “Ubuntu,” and yet another named “Mandriva,” and a Bob Dobbs-looking dude named “SlackWare.” Clearly this would have gotten out of hand long before “Yellow Dog” entered and did something embarrassing with PC’s leg.) So, the only deliberate Novell branding are the taglines at the end of the video, which is just enough to let you know who made the video. No need for overbearing product placements throughout.

Still, there are some observant people that noticed that the woman who played Linux first appears in a sweater that can only be described as “suspiciously green.” Guilty as charged. We tried to keep it subtle. And to those who point out that in Germany “Suse” is sometimes a woman’s name, you are even more clever than the videos’ producers. (Ah, but serendipity is sweet.)

Some other facts and trivia:

  • Between the various posts of these three videos on YouTube and on Novell.com, there have been over a million views. That likely means that we managed to get the primary “Hey, Linux exists!” message out to quite a few people who currently don’t use Linux.
  • The general response to us using a woman to play Linux has been positive, and most people say that we did it respectfully and tastefully. (Nevertheless, there have been many disturbingly sexist–sometimes even misogynistic–comments. Whoever writes these awful comments, please get some dignity.)
  • In the second video, the leopard-print shirt Mac wears is from my personal collection. (We had to pin it in back to make it fit the skinny dude who played Mac.) Sadly, the shirt disappeared during the shoot.
  • In the third video, we absolutely broke the metaphor by having Mac and PC actually use computers. How can Mac be a Mac and use a Mac? How!? We had a second script in which there were no actual computers, and we had all the characters dressed just like Linux. It preserved the original “Get a Mac” metaphor of personifying computers, but the point that Linux runs on whatever did not come out as strong, so we scrapped it.
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21 Responses

  1. […] See Also: Mac-PC-Linux Spoofs: Why We Didn’t Say “SUSE Linux” and more […]

  2. Bruce Perens’ Web site had an intersting item on the lack of attributions for GNU in these ads.

  3. “…the leopard-print shirt Mac wears is from my personal collection. (We had to pin it in back to make it fit the skinny dude who played Mac.) Sadly, the shirt disappeared during the shoot”
    Come on man, they made you a huge favor. :)

  4. How long did it take to find a female like that … one small the other a little bit bigger. And BTW – I prefer a blonde Linux!

  5. Hey Ted,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog.

    It’s sad how simply having a woman personify linux has inspired such awful posts.

    Ted, please drop me an email?

  6. “How can Mac be a Mac and use a Mac? How!?”

    Obviously, the mac is running virtualization software.

  7. “Between the various posts of these three videos on YouTube and on Novell.com, there have been over a million views. That likely means that we managed to get the primary “Hey, Linux exists!” message out to quite a few people who currently don’t use Linux.”

    Or maybe it’s just that there are a million Linux users who watched the video.

  8. carthik [7]: Hmmm…I see your point. I should qualify why I think that we reached out beyond the Linux fold. I base my conjecture on the comments that we received. There were many from people who said that they were non-Linux users. So, we got outside the fold at least a little bit. –T

  9. […] weeks ago Ted Haeger gave some insight on the thoughts behind the Mac-PC-Linux videos. Somehow the videos got over a million views so they seemed to be quite successful. But how do you […]

  10. ‘We chose to go with “Linux” deliberately’, Novell having two Linux brands would seem to be the most likely answer: “Novell Linux” and “SUSE Linux” are used throughout your site.

    The way the “Linux … Novell” is shown, I feel it is disingenuous to suggest that the videos are very much about the larger community. If that was the intention there is a lot more that could have been done.

  11. Lloyd [10]:
    That statement refers to why the actor playing Linux does not say “Hi, I’m SUSE Linux.” Instead, she says, “Hi, I’m Linux.” Of course a company that makes a video like this is going to have their name at the end of it. Furthermore, I was directly involved in the creation process (and helped to shoot down whenever a suggestion that we should have her say “SUSE Linux”), and I personally advocated that she be only “Linux” for the very reason that I stated. So, when you suggest that it’s disingenuous, you are not saying this about a company (Novell, my former employer), but you are saying it about me personally.
    –Ted

  12. Hi Ted,
    Thanks for responding. The context was presented as `insert “SUSE Linux” into the mix` which is what I was responding to. I am sure my opinion is greatly biased by me not liking the videos.

    The videos could have been more about Linux and less about Novell. It could have been “made by Novell” instead of “Linux… Novell” or better yet been less the classic ad format of entertain then sell.

    It is good that you personal ownership for your work — not enough people can or do. I would not doubt your advocacy being genuine, but I think many people will agree with me that the result is less than very much about the larger community.

    Congratulations on your new job!

    I would love to someday hear what you candidly think about the Microsoft Novell deal — for me such a partnership is fundamentally a good thing, it just has been horribly executed (life is in the details).

  13. Only bad thing about this whole commercial….. either you say:

    “Hi I’m Windows”
    “and i’m Mac OSX”
    ” and i’m Linux”

    or

    “Hi I’m a PC”
    “and I’m a Mac”
    “and i’m a Mac or a PC or some other machine running linux.”

    … guess thats nitpicking and most people get your point but still… :D

  14. … and another thing: The commercial is great, my girlfriends name is suse and i think the green color of her sweater and the brand and the end is placement enough :) I always liked this linux-and-one-color-of-the-rainbow idea….

    linux and:
    green -> suse
    blue -> fedora
    red -> ..hat
    brown -> ubuntu
    ….

  15. Whatever. The girl who plays Linux in that film is HOT.

  16. brown is not a colour of the rainbow

  17. good to see it wasn’t used as suse linux, it only adds more consumerism to the campaign and thats not what linux is about, it’s about freedom from those things

  18. and the girl is hot

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