During the Olympics Opening Ceremonies Friday night, Apple somewhat unceremoniously unveiled the makings of a new ad campaign featuring a young Genius Bar worker ready to help troubled Mac users anywhere and everywhere they need assistance. It’s always a bit exciting to see a new Apple ad–but this trio of commercials have set off a bit of controversy for two reasons: 1) They’re dedicated to the Mac; and 2) they’re a major departure from what we’re used to.
The way I see it, there are three categories of Apple fans:
There are the so-called “fanboys” (and girls) who have been on board since before iTools and still believe Apple is a countercultural alternative to Microsoft and the evil PC world. They argue over specs and design minutia, bookmark rumor sites, and obsess of “spy shots.” They hate these ads.
Then we have the ultra-chic hipster crowd, whose main reason for buying Apple products is the cool factor; as soon as iPhones and MacBooks stop looking good, they’ll move on to the next trend. They also hate these ads.
Finally, there are the hardcore tech geeks who would be just as happy with OS X on their Ultrabook or iOS on the Samsung Galaxy S III. You guessed it: They, too, hate these ads.
But in these days of $500 billion market caps and stock dividends, there are millions and millions of people using Apple products who don’t fit any of these descriptions. They probably don’t know what Newtown was and can’t tell Thunderbolt from FireWire. And if they saw one of these ads, they certainly wouldn’t have the same visceral reaction as any of the above people. In fact, they might not really notice it at all.
But that’s exactly who these ads are trying to reach. People who don’t hang out at Apple Stores. People who own Macs but aren’t necessarily Apple fans. They may have gotten a Mac as a gift or bought one because they liked their iPod or iPhone. They might not even own a Mac yet.
Apple isn’t trying to alienate its fans, but I expect to see a whole lot more of these ads over the months to come. Like it or not, Tim Cook is a much more pragmatic CEO than Steve Jobs ever was, and he understands that Apple still has a tremendous opportunity for growth.
He’s trying to sell an idea here, that while Macs are easy to use, you might need a little help learning the ropes. And if that’s the case, we’re here for you.
Even if you hate the commercial.