… These new ads seem to be going after the same demographic: people who are not current Apple customers, particularly those who are not Mac owners. They attempt to differentiate Apple by demonstrating how accessible, passionate and helpful a Mac genius can be. But there’s another message too: it shows what you can do with a Mac (make baby announcement cards, coffee table photo books, business presentations). The fact that the genius helped an airline passenger make a quick video for his wife in just a few minutes before the airplane took off sends a message of iMovie’s simplicity.
In this sense, they’re following in the same footsteps as the company’s recent celebrities-using-Siri campaign — which also starred real (OK, “real”) people using an Apple product showcasing what it can do. Those ads, particularly the first one starring actress Zooey Deschanel, were also mocked for being too conventional and because Apple hasn’t relied on celebrity endorsement ads. But they show a product (Siri) in action in a way that’s very difficult to get across with a simple explanation. You have to see something like voice control embedded in a phone’s software in action to understand its value.
The problem for current Apple users is the artifice. Bottom line: we like humor and smart advertising, but this new series feels hollow, and a little pretentious. Why? The users in the ads are stereotypical, and the genius is too sincere, giving, and understanding.
And even so, I think these ads do work for the company that just recently was still selling iPod socks. Sometimes Apple users take the company too seriously and forget Apple’s real humanity is what sets them apart. The genius in the ads may represent the Genius Bar on the whole… but more importantly, he is a lot like some Geniuses I’ve met that helped me with my Macs. He’s realistic on many levels that I’ve experienced.