Apple ‘Mac Genius’ ads, panned by some techies, may have special target

“When Apple released its ‘Genius’ ads during the Olympics late last month, some Mac fans were not impressed. But one firm that tracks brand perceptions thinks Apple had good reasons for the campaign,” Ian Sherr reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Those familiar with other Apple ads were surprised by the more conventional ‘we’re here to help’ approach. A particularly harsh reaction came from Ken Segall, whose LinkedIn profile says he worked for an ad firm on Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign. ‘These ads are causing a widespread gagging response, and deservedly so,’ he said in a recent blog post,” Sherr reports. “So what was Apple thinking? YouGov’s BrandIndex, a daily tracking and survey service, thinks the answer might lie in shifting demographics.”

Sherr reports, “The service noticed that beginning in May of last year, the popularity of Apple’s brand began to grow among those 35 years old and up. By October, BrandIndex said Apple’s popularity among that demographic had grown to its highest level in at least four years. From early 2008 through mid-July 2011, by contrast, Apple scored higher with the 18-34 age group, the firm said. The increased popularity among older consumers could have influenced Apple’s decision to put out the ‘Genius’ ads, BrandIndex said. ‘It appears that the 35+ demographic, which includes Boomers 50 and over, may need more product hand-holding than the younger group–hence the Genius,’ BrandIndex said, adding that Apple’s decision to run the ads during prime-time Olympics coverage, where the audience is easily over 35 years old, made sense as well.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote when these ads debuted:

Obviously these ads are not targeted at the typical MacDailyNews reader and therefore might, upon first viewing, seem simplistic or even stupid. These ads are not at all stupid, they’re simply talking to people who speak a much more basic tech language than we do. When it comes to these ads, we are all paleontologists being forced to watch Dinosaur Train.

MacDailyNews readers, you are hereby absolved from watching these ads. They are not for your consumption. Pay no attention to these ads whatsoever while you share them repeatedly with your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and anyone else you know who might be in the market for their first real personal computer.

Every Mac user, especially the longtime Mac users who’ve been to the edge and back, should welcome new Mac users whether they know exactly what they’ve just purchased or have much yet to learn.

To take a line from a very early Mac TV ad (second ad below), “The real genius of Macintosh is that you don’t have to be a genius to use it.”

The ad title “Basically” says it all. These ads are appealing to a very basic target audience – the broadest possible target audience – and therefore represent a rather significant milestone:

Apple has finally returned to marketing the computer for the rest of us to the rest of us.

Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal, to take back the computer business from Microsoft, is being realized. These ads are a part of that effort. Apple’s Mac has regained its strength to the point where it can fight for the wide personal computer market again. Microsoft, if they were cognizant, should be shaking in their boots. It’s 1984 all over again and, for the Mac at least, that is a very, very good thing.

Related articles:
Apple’s ‘Mac Genius’ ads disappear from Olympic TV broadcasts – as planned – August 7, 2012
Apple’s new Mac Genius ads preach to new customers, not the choir – August 1, 2012
Ken Segall: Apple’s new Mac ads are causing a widespread gagging response – July 31, 2012
Apple debuts three new Mac ads: ‘Basically,’ ‘Labor Day,’ and ‘Mayday’ (with video) – July 29, 2012


    1. Good point Russ. I forgot all about this. Horrifying.

      @ Thelonious Mac, I think I remember a version of this that was re-cut to make it sound like an orgy. Listening to this video again, it wouldn’t have been hard to do.

  1. At the age of 64, I’ll be retiring from my systems administrator position with a large public utility next month. I’ve used exclusively Apple products at home since 2001. I’ve even gotten them to connect to the corporate network so I can work from home. This boomer doesn’t need any hand holding.

    1. As you’ll note in MDN’s take, these ads were not for most MDN readers. A lot of 64 year olds do need some hand holding when using a computer, you are an exception to that rule.
      Congratulations on the retirement. 🙂

    2. Good for you, Zeke, but Apple has enough mindshare in the older community that AARP has for the first time arranged for the Apple Consultants Network to run an on-site help/tutoring/resource operation at its convention in New Orleans next month. I’d say that these ads were aimed, among other targets, squarely at that demographic.

    1. Could you imagine trying to give this message to people today? “Your only limits will be the size of your ideas and the degree of your dedication. This is an exciting time to be alive.”

      It would be viewed as evil capitalist dogma.

    2. Wow, I don’t even remember that one! Yet another Apple ad that nearly gives me the chills and a lump in my throat. It’s so inspirational, so exciting, even a bit provocative. Definitely not “Crazy Ones”, but very good!

    3. One more… one more! Remember the old “What’s on your PowerBook” series? Long before “What’s in your wallet?” These were good commercials, and I think much better than anything Apple has done post “Crazy Ones.”

  2. I think that both this Wall Street Journal article and the MDN Take miss the most important point. Even Apple commercials that have been aimed at new customers before (Mac v. PC) have been embraced by those who already own Apple stuff. Like Segall said in his article, you don’t have to turn off one group to turn on another. Great campaigns do both. The problem with the new commercials is that they’re just bad. If they said the same thing, but were better written, acted, directed or whatever — we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    I’m a devoted Apple user and I loved the Mac v. PC ads even though they weren’t aimed at me. I talked about them with PC friends to help them see the error of their ways. That’s how a campaign directed at new buyers SHOULD work. The new ads may have a good message, but they’re so bad I wouldn’t share them with anyone.

    There’s really no point in digging for reasons why the ads are smarter than most people think. Apple has stopped running them. They would never invest so much in ads that run only for a short time on the Olympics. If you don’t see them again (and I’m betting you won’t), you can take that as an admission from Apple that they made a big mistake.

    1. “They would never invest so much in ads that run only for a short time on the Olympics.”

      Think back to the “1984” Super Bowl ad. I’m pretty sure that cost more than all 3 of these combined and it ran once.

      1. Yeah, that ad changed advertising forever though. It was a milestone in the profession. Everyone went back to the drawing boards after that. Unfortunately we’ve settled back into crap like these genius ads and animated bears with toilet paper stuck to their asses.

    2. Gee people.. How about we all lighten up. I thought the adds were funny and informative. I would not want a steady diet of them but as a one shot, and that they are pointing to a different demographic, lets just smile and move on. 🙂

  3. I have a 67 year old client who is exactly who the ads were aimed at and during the Olympics… He just bought an iPad … His first computing device an extolls the virtues of the geniuses and Apples free training… Apple is reaching “the rest of us” fulfilling Steve’s vision.

    1. I am 67 years old and I have been using a Mac since my very, very, very late 30s.

      I know that those adds were aimed at most consumers over a certain age who are still using Windows PCs and those luddites among us.

      1. I still find it amazing that anyone still chooses to use a PC. Obviously at work you’re forced to, but at home. Why would anyone put up with that garbage. The non-switchers still live under the myth of PC is cheaper I guess. It might be at the cash out counter, but never is afterward, be it longevity of use, how it’s equipped or repair fees. If you don’t have a lot to spend, visit the Apple Refurb site.

  4. I appreciate everyones comments.
    But I still think the new genius ads just aren’t good enough.
    I am embarrassed by them and do not like them at all.
    They need to stop the ads and try again.

  5. There’s a difference between “we’re here to help” and “if you chose a Mac, you’ll need one of us to help you do every little thing, so much so that it will seem like you’re physically attached to the geniuses”.

  6. The point of any ad is memory. The audience will remember Apple, not the contents of the ad. There’s a reason local car dealer ads are horrific. They work.

  7. Fine, critique the Apple ads. But just check out those Windows dorks who had been subjected to a saccharine enema and who had that oh-so PC articulate, non-threatening, way-smiley token Black dude who made granny just want share a piece of her cookie with him and wiggle his nose. I really think there are no words in the English language capable of describing That commercial’s shortcomings. Is there a single word for “So totally gay that it makes you embarrassed because you’re the same species”?

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