You know the recent ones with the Ferris Bueller-like Apple genius? The press has been uncomplimentary, as have the bloggers. But I think there is actually a strategy here. Once Apple sells Macs to all the “low hanging fruit” who lust after beautiful design, they need to win over other populations of potential customers. One such group would be people who are afraid they won’t know how to get started. These ads humorously address common unspoken fears among potential first-time computer buyers. They aren’t speaking to the kind of people who read Mashable.
Despite all the accusations of pandering — something about these Apple ads feels right to me: I think they get the mood right. I’ve sat with PC users far too often and felt how confused and frustrated they are at this box in front of them that makes everything so damn hard to do and hard to understand (from their perspective). I think these ads give a subliminal message that it’s going to be OK — this computer will work for you. You’ll be able to figure it out. That’s very reassuring to an audience of people that is not technical, not geeks — not us.
I give Apple credit for trying to go beyond beauty shots and selling design, to an attempt at communicating other aspects of the ownership experience. The Apple market is now the mass-market, not just creative professionals. These ads are not targeted at the geek core, but at first-time purchasers, switchers, and the type of customer that has trouble understanding the difference between the hard drive and the CPU.
There is a population that won’t trust the corporate voice telling them “don’t worry — it’ll just work — buy it because it’s beautiful and the people in the photos are all young, gorgeous and happy”. Maybe these future Apple customers need more evidence. Maybe they are not impressed by industrial design. Maybe Apple is reaching beyond the already-converted.
These are the ads to which I refer: