Intel’s “frenemy” relationship with Apple is starting to become almost comical, as the once-dominant chipmaker continues to wage an aggressive marketing campaign against Apple’s new M1 chips while its CEO talks out of the other side of his mouth.
To be fair, Intel’s original advertising campaign to try to promote Windows PCs over Macs was fairly serious business, even if it did make the chipmaker come across as a bitter jilted lover over the end of its 15-year relationship with Apple.
The campaign was intended to highlight things that PCs could do that Macs could not, but like most advertising campaigns, there were more than a few points that were disingenuous at best. For example, Intel pointed to things like the MacBook’s use of USB-C ports as a disadvantage, while obviously omitting any mention of the many slim PC laptops — and every Intel MacBook made since 2016 — that also feature USB-C ports exclusively.
The campaign continued with a series of questionable benchmarks that painted Intel’s new 11th-gen “Tiger Lake” processors as outperforming the M1 chip, even though every real-world test shows the M1 leaves the entire Intel family in the dust.
However, by the time Intel hired Justin Long of “I’m a Mac” fame to switch sides and promote PCs, we had begun to wonder if the company was merely trying very hard to keep a straight face. While Apple’s original 2006-era ad campaign that featured Long playing opposite John Hodgman was funny, witty, and charming, Intel’s attempt to recreate the concept fell flat with a resounding thud. It wasn’t even a good parody.
Last month, Intel’s new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, insisted that he was just having “competitive fun” with Apple, while also announcing plans to try to woo Apple as a possible customer for its new chip foundry service.
In other words, after weeks of putting down and mocking Apple’s M1 chips, Intel is trying to convince Apple to let it build them.
So, perhaps it was merely a Freudian slip that caused Intel to tacitly admit in its latest ad campaign that “The world’s best processor on a thin and light laptop” is actually found in a MacBook.
The ad in question, which first appeared on Reddit is clearly designed to promote Intel’s new 11th-gen Core i7 chips — the text specifically references an “Intel Core i7-185G7 processor.” There’s only one problem, however: The image behind the ad clearly shows a person using a MacBook Pro.
To be fair, the MacBook in question appears to be a 16-inch MacBook Pro, which hasn’t yet been updated for Apple Silicon. So, technically speaking, it is a MacBook containing an Intel chip — but that’s definitely not the Intel Core i7-1185G7, which isn’t used by Apple in any Mac, and likely never will be.
It’s likely that Intel’s advertising team wasn’t paying enough attention when they selected the stock photo from Getty Images, which is described simply as “Hipster asian man playing games on a laptop at home,” and obscures the Apple logo on the MacBook’s lid. However, another image in the same series also clearly shows the subject using a Magic Mouse, and clearly wearing Beats headphones.
Although Apple’s new M1 chip is found only on its entry-level Macs at this point — the MacBook Air, the Mac mini, and the lower-tier MacBook Pro — these Apple Silicon Macs outperform every Intel Mac ever made, even including the $6,000 base Mac Pro. So, even though most of Apple’s Macs still include Intel chips right now, that landscape is expected to change dramatically in the coming months.