Personally, I think these ads are problematic but can only be considered “embarrassing” when judged by a higher, Apple-only standard. Which, OK, yeah, that’s what we do.
Some people seem to think the ads send a message that Macs are hard to use or require the input of an expert. I don’t think that’s true. The point of these ads is to say “If you’re concerned about switching, don’t be. We have these geniuses who make it easier.” That’s not a bad message, even if it’s not as good as the Switcher ads which said “Macs are so easy, you can just do it yourself.”
Craig Hockenberry notes:
The people who are complaining the loudest about the new Genius ads already own Apple products.
It’s not about you. At all.
That’s exactly right. John Gruber retweeted someone who said:
I work for Geek Squad and the people I help every day will eat these ads up.
I’d imagine this is probably true. I know Windows users who frequently pay someone to clean their computer up for them. Has anyone ever had to do that with a Mac? Ever?
It’s still a switcher-based game for Apple. In order to increase Mac sales, they have to get people to switch from Windows. Ads like these (if not necessarily these exact ads) are integral to the game plan.
Still, I can’t say the ads are great. I think the “Mayday” ad does a good job because by the end the guy who needed help is ready to help the next person. It’s also the funniest but, more importantly, it’s the most on-message. The other two ads go off the rails into “you people are just stupid” territory, trying too hard to be funny and not succeeding.
From an image standpoint, I wonder if the Genius is really the iconic face you want for your company. I don’t have anything against Geniuses, I’ve always had a good experience with them. But the “I’m a Mac” ads used the Mac itself as a face. The Switcher ads before that used “people like you”. Now Apple’s going with a generic Apple employee. The actor does a good job with the material, it’s just I’m not sure the part should have been written.
At the same time, I’m hard pressed to think of ads from a competitor that are as good. The Samsung ads featuring Apple fans standing in line are the closest I can think of. They were amusing and insulting, just like these. So, like I said, I only think these are terrible when judged by the Apple-only yardstick.
But I’m sure we’ll be treated to a host of opinions this week about how this is another sign of Apple’s impending doom. Just like whatever happened last week was.