There’s been a lot of talk about Apple’s latest round of ads surrounding the Olympics. Actually, there’s been a lot of sighing, lamenting and grumbling as many long-time Apple users express our disappointment. For devout Apple fans such as myself, these ads are nothing short of painful. As Ken Segall put it, “The idea of creating a “character” from an Apple employee is… well…. damn, I can’t even say this without feeling awful… it feels like something Best Buy would do. Maybe even Dell.”
But while the ads are bad, I’m not sure the sentiment behind them is. The customers being portrayed in these ads are real (except the guy in Labor Day, anyone geeky enough to be thinking about creating the birth announcement while his wife is in labor probably knows how to make one… or so I’ve heard…). It may be insulting, but the scenarios shown in both Basically and Mayday hold true. The misconception of a PC being just as good as a Mac is becoming more and more prevalent, especially as other computer manufacturers continue to make their machines look more and more like a Mac. The “average user” also doesn’t always find apps like iMovie and Keynote as intuitive as we’d like to believe.
There’s a lot that Apple could do to make these ads far less insulting and far more effective. There’s also a lot of fear and confusion that comes with switching from Windows to a Mac and to a certain extent it’s smart that Apple is addressing this. I recently watched my aunt go through the process of switching from a PC to a Mac after decades of Windows use. The transition has been… well, let’s just say it’s been challenging. Had it not been for the Geniuses it would have gone from a challenge to nightmare (and likely my nightmare at that).
I’m a big believer that once you get familiar, a Mac is easier and more intuitive than any other PC experience out there, but it’s hard to argue that the simplicity you see in an iOS ad holds true for the Mac. The experience isn’t as slick or as intuitive, especially for those who spent years of their lives in Windows. There’s a big difference between easy and easier; the first you can figure out on your own, the second often requires help. My aunt can pick up an iPhone or iPad and hit the ground running; the same is not true when it comes to the Mac. She needs help and in Apple’s case, help is there in the form of a Genius. So while I’m disappointed in how Apple attempted to express that, I give them credit for having the guts to admit that when it comes to the Mac, the help you’ll likely need is already there.
So while there’s little doubt that Apple’s latest ads are painful, do you think they have a point?