Thinks Different

July 27 2012

Apple Ads

Apple recently launched a new series of ads and they've received quite a lot of differing opinions from Apple nerds. Here are mine. I won't talk about how they may be "embarassing" to Apple nerds, because advertising is used to sell computers, not please Apple nerds. I'll try to take the point of view of a potential customer knowing little/nothing about Macs (the audience Appel is targeting in these ads).

Mayday:

Here you see a guy struggling and frustrated while using his computer. You can argue he's more frustrated due to timing pressure, however he's still freaking out. I don't think it's obvious enough that the man is finding the genius helpful. If you were to miss certain parts of the ads (is it unreasonable that people may not pay full attention to advertisements), it simply looks like a guy frustated using a Mac. It also implies that only Apple geniuses can figure out how to use their computers. The joke of "is there an Apple genius on board?" on "is there a doctor on board" furthur drives this point. The role of a doctor takes years of education and training, are they suggesting that learning how to use their products is the same?

Basically:

This one is not as bad as the previous. Basically (ha!), this one suggests that you should get a Mac because it's a Mac. The genius lists a bunch of apps that only Macs have, which are all great, but it does nothing to say why those are great. If I were a new customer, is having something called "iPhoto" on a computer convincing enough to make me ditch my "looks like a Mac" and buy a Mac?

Labor Day:

This is perhaps the least worst of the series of ads. In this ad, a panicked father values cards and photo books over taking his wife to the hospital. That's a little funny (and that Apple geniuses are freaks who sleep in their work clothes). I don't think this ad would be that bad if the genius didn't seem a bit sarcastic (starting at 0:12).

It's sometimes a bad idea to include jokes in your advertisements. If the joke is easy to understand and helps make the ad memorable, go for it, however it's risky to include a joke that may not be entirely obvious. People from different backgrounds, cultures may not understand the joke or take it literally. It's important that this possibility will not negatively affect how they perceive the product.

I also don't think it's unreasonable to think that people don't often pay full attention to ads (with the exception of that one football game in February that people watch every year), which is why I think it's extremely difficult (and risky) to have any sort of story in any ad. It's important to be able to pay attention to any short segment of the ad and still get a good feeling for the product. It's also not unreasonable to think that people may not be looking at the TV (only hearing it) and people (especially in public places) may only be able to see it not be able to hear it.

Using this logic, I find the Siri ads to be fantastic. At all points in the ad you see the actual product (and it looks great). Pay attention to just the video for a few moments and you'll see the customer speaking into this device, then the words appear on screen with some information. It's clear what the product is. Listen to just the audio and you hear the customer asking questions aloud and a synthetic voice responding with answers. From all possible exposures, this is a very successful ad.

Taking the same approach for the genius ads produces much different results. Pay attention to just a few seconds and you'll either hear or see some man yelling at an Apple genius. Overall, Apple has produced much better ads.