By: Dan Wittmers
It was brought to my attention today that Apple has quietly stopped running their series of commercials they debuted during the Opening Ceremonies for the Summer Olympics. The series of three creatives featured an "Apple Genius" assisting average consumers in unusual and seemingly unrealistic situations.
The new Mac ads were a far cry from the days of old where "Mac" & "PC" would duel it out in a battle of wits and it was immediately apparent that these new ads were a huge miss. It can be risky aiming an ad at only one segment of consumers, as these ads were so obviously aimed at noobs, but is it possible to hit two segments at once? I refer back to the Mac vs PC ads, which delivered 66 different creatives over a span of four years. These ads resonated extremely well with switchers and long-time Apple enthusiasts alike.
It's also typically not a good idea to portray your consumers as being clueless, or worse helpless, yet that didn't stop the tech giant from doing just that. I mean I get it, you gotta try and make the "Apple Genius" seem like the great and powerful Oz, but never at the cost of the consumer. This was a surprise to me, as I've always respected how well Apple communicates with their consumers on such a core level.
Even Ken Segall, ex-Creative Director for TBWA/Chiat/Day who worked with Jobs for years at both NeXT and Apple, had near heart failure upon seeing the ads. A recent post on his personal site began like this:
"Repeat after me: “The sky is not falling. The sky is not falling.”
I know it’s hard to say after viewing the new batch of Mac ads that debuted on the Olympics. I’m still in a bit of shock myself.
Sure, Apple has had a low point or two in its advertising past — but its low points are usually higher than most advertisers’ high points.
This is different. These ads are causing a widespread gagging response, and deservedly so. I honestly can’t remember a single Apple campaign that’s been received so poorly.
This thing is so upsetting, it has me talking to myself..."
He goes on to say,
"within 24 hours of these ads hitting the air, I got a load of email from Apple fans who were terribly disappointed. Not one positive comment. What I did get were comments like “I’m speechless,” “Atrocity” and “Horrifically bad.”
These ads missed the mark on multiple levels, but the one that bothers me the most, was that they just weren't funny at all. The sketch comedy style scripting fell so short, I found myself feeling embarrassed for the actors, similar to the way you feel for the women in those "not so fresh" commercials. I was literally praying for the commercial to end so we could all be put out of our misery. Not quite the same inspired emotion the old shadow dancing iPod commercials used to generate.
Apple continues to run the ads on their YouTube page and Mac Site, but they have definitely disappeared from the Olympics coverage on NBC. It was even noticed that Apple has since deleted and reposted their Siri ad with Martin Scorsese on their YouTube page; leading to speculation that it was so it would be the first video consumers see versus the new creative executions.
It begs the question, were these commercials actually pulled from the Olympics coverage because of poor consumer reception? According to a rep for TBWA/Media/Arts Lab, Apple’s ad agency, they weren't pulled at all. The rep told Mashable,
"The ads are not running anymore, but that was the plan all along. The ads were intended only for a “first run” during the Olympics, which meant just the first weekend of the Games."
Whether the ads were pulled or just finished flighting remains to be seen, but we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief that the pain is over. Let's hope they take back to the drawing board and resurface with new creative that shows more of the intelligent humor we've come to expect from Apple.
Dan Wittmers is the Founder & CEO of the Mobile Leaders Alliance. He has a natural understanding of the entire mobile ecosystem, and during his tenure, has had the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 brands and agencies across North America. Educated in media, messaging, development, SaaS tools and predictive analytics, he is an emerging thought leader in the mobile industry.