The Polarizing ‘New’ Apple Ads

As most saw over the weekend, Apple released three new ads that focus on their ‘genius’ support team. The ads show helpless users of Macs, all wanting to do something, and needing help.

There’s been a lot of debate, and over the weekend about these ads, but I never saw the ads, so I just knew about them from what I saw in Twitter and my RSS feed. The reaction was a bunch of less than happy Mac users:

John Gruber:

These spots don’t appeal to me, personally. They’re not cool. But they’re not supposed to be cool, and they’re not targeted at existing Mac users.

Jean-Louis Gassée:

Ouch! Cringe-inducing new Apple “Genius” ads for Mac. Put those back in the bottle. First celebrity Siri ads, now this?

Ken Segall:

In the effort to show that the Genius is the most helpful guy in the world, Apple has created customers who, shall we say, are on the dim side. In past ads, Apple has shown “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” simply because Apple products are so easy to use. Now we have thick people who want to be better, but need a Genius to help. Not exactly flattering.

Lastly, Gruber’s comments on Segall’s post really made me go watch the ads:

The idea is these on-screen Mac users in need of help are supposed to make the viewer at home feel like, “Hey, I’m smarter than that guy.”

Of the three ads, ‘Mayday’ is the only one I care for. I think ‘Labor Day’ is kind of funny, but doesn’t do much but show off the iPhoto products you can order. ‘Basically’ is, basically, a warning that you should go to the Apple Store to buy your Apple goods — because otherwise you don’t actually get a Mac.

But I want to talk about ‘Mayday’ because I think it is a great ad — an ad that I can relate to first hand as a non-dumb-Mac user. Most of the ‘Mayday’ ad is just so-so, but it is the ending that I think is great, subtle, but great. At the end the flight attendant comes to get the Genius to help with a Keynote presentation — after the Genius just finished helping with an iMovie project — the Genius springs to action, but so does the Mac user he was just helping.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The guy that was so “helpless” before is filled with confidence and proclaims: “Let’s do this” — gets up with the Genius to go help another Mac user.

So Apple just subtly told all would-be Mac users that:

  • If you come to the Apple store for help, we will help you;
  • You won’t need to come back for more help;
  • You can now help others with Mac problems.

This is something I have seen time and time again, once you show a new Mac user how to do something — they find it so easy to do again, and now they tend to be more than willing to actively help other Mac users. It used to be a game — dodging being a Windows tech support friend — but with Macs I have found that most users are all too happy to help other users.

To me, that is what this Apple ad is showing — and Apple is just giving new users an FYI that they can find Apple Geniuses in their stores.

I don’t think the ads are bad at all, they just aren’t geared towards anyone reading this site.

This ad tells new users that there is great help available, help that will teach you — not lecture you. That Mac users band together. Some say these ads aren’t great, but I think ‘Mayday’ is pretty great — it’s just telling a story we aren’t used to seeing Apple tell.

Originally posted for members on: July 30, 2012
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