Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The problem with Mac ads

I recently watched one of the many episodes of the “I’m a mac” ad series. To get things straight, I like macs…alot, and although some of the ads in this series are just not funny, I do like the way they poke fun at pcs and deliver them a much overdue comedic beating. However from a business perspective there are numerous problems with the whole series of ads, some of them very fundamental in nature.

I personally like them because I understand them, and I think they cater to the whole Apple “in joke” brand of humour. However for your average computer user, who we can presume is relatively computer ignorant, the ads serve no real purpose at all. They don’t inform or persuade in any meaningful manner, conversely if we look at a typical Dell ad, it tells us what we get, when we’ll get it, and what a great deal we are getting. And obviously this has brought them great success, where as Apples “we’re cooler than thou” approach has had relatively limited success.

The most fundamental problem lies with who they are aiming these ads at.
The ads essentially act as funny little shorts that provide light entertainment for Apple fans, although amusing this is a true waste of advertising revenue. In case you didn’t notice, apple fans do not need to be convinced to go out there and buy an Apple computer anymore, they are preaching to the converted and fighting a war that for that person, has already ended. Apples hardware and software do all the marketing it needs to KEEP customers, and they do not need to run smug reminders to retain their loyalty.

Should apple ever decide to make meaningful inroads into the home computer market they will need to adopt a new marketing approach, I’m not suggesting they go out and out “Dell” on us but they need to adopt an advertising method that can inform the Appleaphobes among us what they are missing out on, rather than insult (that’s no way to make new friends) or worse tell them nothing at all.


Anonymous said...

very insightful piece! I am a PC user myself. The way I interpret the ad is to get PC users to switch to mac by pointing out the typical PC nuances PC users had to put up with and not getting new users to buy Macs. The message isn't really trying to convey any savings from a PC, but rather the convience of Mac over PC and the "hippness" that goes along with a Mac.

From the pure marketing perspective, I think the ads are ingenious: they do not convey any added value (a Mac is really a pc with a different OS), no price differentials, no specific product (iBook? G4? ipods?), but after watching the ad you'd feel like you want to run to the nearest Apple store and buy a Mac because they are the essence of being hip and cool!

Rowan Manahan said...

Hmmmm, I'm sure that Apple track the effectiveness of their advertising and all ... but I just don't see how yelling "You're wro-ong!" (in a more than slightly smug tone) at people is such a good idea.

There have long been discussions about how no sane person would put up with the crap that Windows makes them suffer from a car, a toaster or a microwave oven. But when it comes to technology, somehow, someone has managed to lower our expectations to such an extent that we DO put up with the crap.

As long as corporate purchasers look at the price on the tin rather than the total cost of owning, running, upgrading and percussively maintaining a computer, PCs will continue to win hands down. And today, corporates aren't exactly renowned for their clearsightedness or long term vision ...

Presuming that Apple can measure the impact and effectiveness of their advertising, it's obviously meeting their internal expectations. For years, BMW have proudly spent the vast majority of their marketing spend on existing users - basically telling smug BMW drivers how clever and discerning they are to have chosen the Ultimate Driving Machine. I agree that the majority of Mac users are 'Lifers' and that this seems to be a waste of spend, but then again, Steve's a pretty smart guy and he's been playing the Long Game for a long time now ...

Luke said...

I think that last comment misunderstood that what he sees as hip, 95% of the real world see as snobby.

and thats not ingenious thats stupid