During the Olympics, Apple began running a series of ads featuring Apple Store Geniuses helping middle-aged men do tasks with their Macs. Seems pretty benign on the surface. There has been a great deal of debate on the internet about their effectiveness and Apple’s desire to reach middle-aged men as a demographic. These thoughts have been echoed in many places including The Atlantic.
The problem, and the reason that I don’t believe Steve Jobs ever would have approved these ads is one of brand. Apple brand is simplicity. They have built the company on the perception that using and owning an Apple product is far easier to use than that of the competition. While this may be a bit overstated, this is the brand and it is the reason that most people buy or switch to a Mac or other Apple device. What is implied in these ads is that in order to do any of the activities shown in the ads, you need the help of a friendly Apple Genius. This implication means that these activities are too complex to do on your own. If that is the case, than wouldn’t it make more sense to by a much cheaper device at Best Buy and get help from Geek Squad?
While it may be true that even on a Mac, most middle aged men won’t be able to figure out how to turn a photo into a postcard and send it to his Mom, stating this in a national TV campaign does tremendous damage to the brand. This is a case of a bunch of marketing and sales bean counters driving Apple’s ad creative for a specific sales goal rather than focusing on the brand as a whole. These ads have since stopped running.