My last post ended with a statement about learning to separate the company Apple from its products. While the company produces visionary technology, the company’s practices are questionable. I ended the post by saying that there are others who agree with me regarding Apple’s commercials. This post is written with the goal in mind to show those who side with Apple on the commercials that they can still love the company—even if they agree that Apple’s commercials were nothing short of poor advertising.
Ken Segall, the former ad man for Apple’s commercials, wrote on his blog against the commercials and expressed his outrage at Apple’s horrible advertising. For those who agree with Apple, Ken Segall has a few words:
“How many great campaigns have you seen that appeal to one target group, but turn off everyone else? There’s no excuse for a campaign like that. Apple’s momentum is fueled by the enthusiasm of its core customers. The last thing it wants is to win new customers at the cost of looking ridiculous to its enthusiastic supporters” (http://www.cultofmac.com/181912/former-apple-advertising-expert-bashes-new-genius-ads/).
I agree with Segall; the ads may appeal to new customers, but what about the “old faithful”? What about those who have been Apple customers for years, who have studied their computers and know the difference between a Mac and its competitors and can produce an iMovie within minutes? The ads certainly disappoint faithful Apple customers who were expecting something of a more envied quality than what they received on their television screens.
As I have written in parts 1 and 2 of this matter, the ads insinuated claims about consumers that do not line up with reality. For example, how many consumers would confuse the differences between a Mac and other computers? Are consumers blind to the extent that they cannot see an Apple logo on a computer and know it is a MacBook? I think not; yet and still, Apple made this point—though I do not think the company intended to say this. What about “Mr. Greene” in the Labor Day commercial who is too busy concerning himself with photobooks and photocards to think about calling an ambulance? Does this ad not say that Apple’s geniuses possess common sense, something that the average husband and father-to-be does not?
If you think I exaggerate too much, just ask yourself the following question: If a husband knows that his wife will give birth some eight months or so after they are told they will conceive, why would he wait until the delivery day to prepare a photobook or make photocards? This commercial may appeal to those who want to see something funny, but it did not make me laugh. Rather, the commercials offended my sensibilities.
You may ask, “What’s the big deal?” Apple’s flopped commercials are a big deal because a company’s actions (as a normal individual’s) reflect the ideals and character of the company. For example, when a beer commercial places a young, twenty-something in a bar shooting pool and drinking beer, it does so to drill home the message that the bar is a place where you can relax (if your idea of relaxing is to have a beer) and be yourself. There is something realistic about a commercial that reveals truth, even when it refers to something magical and fantastic.
With that being said, examine Apple’s three commercials. What do these commercials say about consumers? 1) Consumers are idiots who cannot do simple things like make a movie with iMovie; 2) Apple has its “geniuses” who can always come to the rescue; 3) Consumers think Macs are like all other computers; 4) Consumers are so enamored with the Mac’s capabilities that they cannot think about important things like the birth of a baby. In the MayDay commercial, the Apple Genius has “extraordinary” (I say it sarcastically) technical knowledge; in the Labor Day commercial, the Apple Genius has extraordinary (I said it again!) common knowledge. It seems that Apple Geniuses are meant to be both common and technical sense for consumers. If the Apple Genius has all knowledge and reason, what does this spell for the consumer? I will let you fill in the blank on this one.
Commercials are designed to capture the attention of the television or movie watcher for only a few seconds to a few minutes at a time. In those moments, some of the most powerful messages can be communicated. Unfortunately, when it was time for Apple to shine, the company flopped in a major way—and television watchers found themselves wanting the Olympics to return to the screen so they could forget all about what they had just seen before.