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Microsoft to spoof Hodgman in new "I'm a PC" television ads

Microsoft on Thursday will segue into the next phase of a $300 million advertising campaign with an "audacious embrace" of the derisive "I’m a PC" label slapped upon its image by rival Apple, according to the New York Times.

The newspaper, which appears to have been briefed on the matter, says the new string of ads will mark a stark departure from the offbeat teaser skits (1, 2) featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld that dominated the initial phase of the campaign, and which were met with mixed reviews.

"One new Microsoft commercial even begins with a company engineer who resembles John Hodgman, the comedian portraying the loser PC character in the Apple campaign," according to the Times. "'Hello, I’m a PC,' the engineer says, echoing Mr. Hodgman’s recurring line, 'and I’ve been made into a stereotype.'"

The risky decision to use Apple's assault as a foundation for a counter-strike is reportedly a trademark of the firm behind the Microsoft campaign, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, and reminiscent of tactics eventually used in other high profile corporate bouts such as Hertz vs. Avis and Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola.

Microsofts hopes to regain control of its image, as well as that of the "PC," in the new ads, which will feature cameo appearances by Gates and other celebrities such as Eva Longoria, but not Seinfeld. The stars of the ads will be "everyday PC users" who pride themselves on the use of Microsoft PCs, the Times says, in addition to some 60 Microsoft employees who'll be identified  "by e-mail addresses."  That includes Bill Gates.

Television commercials will begin airing Thursday evening on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” and will be complemented by newspaper ads and new media on Microsoft's Windows.com website.

Also beginning Thursday night, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant will invite visitors to the website to upload videos and photos that will demonstrate "how they, too, are PCs." Microsoft will reportedly select some of the photos to appear on electronic billboards in Times Square beginning the following day, while others will be used in advertisement banners.

A future series of magazine and outdoor ads are also said to emphasizes Windows' ability to scale from mobile devices and TV sets to notebooks and traditional PCs.

Meanwhile, Microsoft remains coy on whether it plans to reintroduce Seinfeld in a future phase of the campaign.