Why the Mac Ads are Really Bad

Ken Segall:

“Do you think Steve Jobs would have approved these ads?”

Now you’re making me mad. I will never answer a “What would Steve do” question and I hate it when people speculate like that. None of us can possibly know what Steve would do. Steve was a master marketer, but he was also perfectly capable of a lapse in judgment. It’s unfortunate that this campaign is appearing now, nine months after Steve passed away, because the timing only fuels the argument that everything will crumble now that Steve is gone. I don’t buy that.

The truth is, advertising is hard. A lot of really talented people at Chiat pour their hearts into creating the ads that we critique. As you know, Apple’s ads succeed far more often than they fail — just like Apple itself. Every one of us, Steve Jobs included, has experienced failure. It may sound trite, but it’s how one responds to failure and what one learns from the experience that defines character, whether you’re an individual or a corporation.

“So is the sky falling or not? You’re confusing me.”

The fact is, bad ads happen. And sometimes they happen to really good people. The tragedy would be if Apple acted like a politician and dug in its heels for the sake of appearances. I don’t think that will happen. Apple is good at fixing mistakes — and this is one that could use a major-league fixing.

Ken Segall has a unique opinion on Apple’s advertising because he for many years was at the top of Apple advertising from within. You should read the rest of his piece if the Genius ads still concern you. It’s the closest thing to a gin and tonic for the troubled Apple fan’s soul. 

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Why the New Apple Genius Ads Work on Some Level

Erica Ogg:

… 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.

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Replace Tweetbot’s Egg for Tweetbot’s Bird

I think Tweetbot’s use of the mechanical egg for the alpha and beta stage of the Mac app release is cleverly fun. But if you, like me, really want to know what’s inside the egg, and would like to know what the Tweetbot looks like from head to toe, there’s an icon for that.

Devin over at Coding Massacre shared this icon. It’s for anyone that wants to replace the egg with the bird in their Dock or Applications folder. Devin also provides the iOS Tweetbot icon if you would rather use it on your Mac. In either case, to change the egg icon to the robo-bird, watch these instructions. You may need this app to convert the image into a usable icon format too. 

Announcing the Release of MovieByte

I’m excited to announce that I have joined TJ Draper to host the new MovieByte podcast. It’s available on iTunes and online.

Movies are fun. I reviewed them once as a host for Movieology. We had a good run reviewing films over the course of 2011. The reason Movieology was postponed indefinitely (since January 2012) is that our small studio staff had to divert their attentions to other productions. We have intended to reboot ever since, and now is our opportunity to do so.

MovieByte is run by TJ Draper and myself as a review and podcast website for Liberty Alliance. Let me preface by saying I am Creative Director at LA. That said, LA is very kind to host and support everything for the podcast and website. Of course, any new venture is a labor of love and requires personal sacrifices too. TJ and I have devoted countless hours to create MovieByte and get it launched.

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Mountain Lion Improves Upon Lion

If you, like me, can’t concentrate on anything but Apple’s Mountain Lion release, then you will want to read some solid articles pertaining to the new Mac OS. The most notable I’ve read thus far is from Shawn Blanc.

In his article he points out many of the little tweaks in Mountain Lion that make it enjoyable and superior to the previous Mac OS called Lion. Here is my favorite of his remarks:

The keyboard shortcut for “Save As” is back, but it’s different. Apple says: Use Command-Shift-Option-S to save a document using a different name and location.

See? Apple fixes their mistakes. It’s the little things that add up to make Mountain Lion needful to everyday users. I’ve been looking for a good “Save As” shortcut since the day I installed Lion. 

Bing Struggles to Keep Up

Sebasteean De With:

Designing a search engine is a humongous task. What’s equally or even more humongous is the opportunity in reinventing an online experience we have taken for granted for so long. Bing’s current strategy seems to be simply following behind Google, copying them every move. It’s a perfect recipe for irrelevance.

You can say that again. For kicks, I gave Bing another try lately to see how they have come along. It’s better than it was a year ago, but it feels like it is stuck in the summer of 2011; it already seems dated in the recent redesign. I think I’ll stick with DuckDuckGo for now. 

A Quick Review of Squarespace 6

I’ve used Squarespace 5 for a few months now. If you don’t know what Squarespace is, it’s an excellent alternative to WordPress for blog sites and the like. Well, Squarespace 5 is a great alternative, but Squarespace 6, which was released last week, might not be ready for the big leagues.

I accepted Ss’s generous offer to open a free Ss 6 site with my other account on Ss 5. If you were a member of Ss before 6 was released you are entitled to start a new Ss 6 site for free. I appreciate Squarespace giving this to their loyal user base. And I’m glad I didn’t pay for my Ss 6 site. It’s nowhere near as good as my Ss 5 site is to me.

If you thought Ss 5 was limiting, like many web developers have, think again. 6 makes 5 look nerdy and advanced. 6 is so straight-forward and minimal that there isn’t one widget you can add to a site out-of-the-box without knowing some code. And it’s not just widgets that are missing.

The template themes are new and aesthetically appealing. You can customize them to a good extent. The editor offers a new and relaxing writing experience. Even so, most of the tools with Ss 5 by way of the admin structure and style modes are gone. In Ss 6, you have less than half the customizable parameters; even the WYSIWYG editor is missing various formatting controls. Honestly, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of little ways Ss 6 disappoints.

The most noticeable of the missing features for Ss 6 is support. Ss 5 has some of the best articles, video tutorials, and forums I’ve come by. Ss 6 is so new, however, that the developers haven’t managed much in the way of a support section. When I turned to the support for Ss 6 I found it helpful, but not able to solve most of my issues.

Though I have no official word from the developers, I suspect Ss 6 is stifling because it’s very new and a complete re-do of the Ss tools. In due time, hopefully the developers of Squarespace 6 will manage to include a great number of the Ss 5 features that are sorely missed. I have good faith in them because Ss 5 has been so rewarding and exemplary. If they don’t intend to make Ss 6 as capable as Ss 5 then they have lost their minds, which I highly doubt.

And even though I had higher hopes for Ss 6 out of the box, I think I will use this free site for a new project I have in the works that doesn’t require much in the way of site features.