Niners To Xers: Apple's Switch Campaign For Mac
The estate of George Orwell and the television rightsholder to the novel 1984 considered the commercial to be a flagrant copyright infringement, and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple.
Apple’s longest running television advertising campaign for the Mac is about to enter year three with no sign of slowing down. Is longevity a sign of success for the “ I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ad campaign? What’s the real cause of the Mac’s record sales this year? Regardless of what you think of Apple’s television advertising campaign for the Mac, one thing is for sure. More people use Macs than ever before.
Apple has substantial on air and print advertising for three major products. The Mac, via the ever present “ I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” television ad campaign. The iPod, via the flashy and colorful silhouette street dancing commercials. And, more recently, a variety of clever iPhone television commercials featuring half a dozen actual product features rolled into a 30-second commercial ( and a few TV ads with real world people describing their real world iPhone experiences).
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The Apple logo, it seems, is everywhere. How successful are these expensive product campaigns? Very successful, judging by product sales and profitability. The Mac is selling in record numbers. The iPod commands over 70-percent of the portable music player market. What of the iPhone? Barely six months after launch, the iPhone has become the must have product of the year.
The invention of the year. Already, Safari browser use on the iPhone tops web browser usage of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform, and any other cell phone browser. Clearly, Apple’s product advertising has been successful in getting the word out that Apple’s products work, they’re chic, snazzy, elegant, hip, and cool, all rolled into one. Product sales translate into profits. Whatever is opposite of a vicious circle is what Apple has generated with the Mac, iPod, and iPhone ad campaigns. Of course, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and based on the number of Mac TV ad parodies showing showing up online, Apple is being flattered by anyone and everyone with a video camera.
Thanks to iTunes and various utilities which capture YouTube videos and convert them for storage in iTunes, people now collect parodies and Apple’s “ I’m a Mac” television commercials. For a look at the most recent Mac television commercials.
Is it fair to say that Apple’s television commercial campaigns are at the heart of the Mac’s resurgent success, or solely the reason for iPod’s huge market share, or totally responsible for the iPhone’s great launch? Advertising is but one element of marketing. It could be argued that Apple creates a mini-Perfect Storm with each major product, bringing together the right features, the right package, the right price, and coupling those with great public relations campaigns, and a little Apple hype along the way. All the pieces fit well together, but probably pale in significance to the word of mouth advertising generated by Apple’s customers. That worked to keep the Mac floating long after most tech prognosticators expected Apple to fold, and the Mac to die.
Early adopters, Mac users, touted the benefits of the iPod, which started slowly and built up a head of steam no competitor was able to match. The iPhone has actually been handled differently from a marketing perspective, as the iPhone’s product details were revealed many months before launch. In true Apple fashion, the iPhone had what no other similar product could boast, and hundreds of thousands of people waited in line to purchase the first units available after launch. A similar effect is taking place in Europe, though on a slightly smaller scale. To the question of, “Do Apple’s Mac television commercials make PC users switch?” The answer is an obvious “yes” though switching from a Windows PC to a Mac is predicated on much more than a series of clever television commercials. It’s that whole package again.
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Tens of millions of Windows PC users bought the iPod, an Apple product, and love it. The barriers to buy a Mac were lowered, one by one. I’m convinced that Apple creates a series of mini-Perfect Storms which combine to stir passions for their products, sometimes even before availability. Name another tech company with such a large and loyal customer base. Apple, it seems, has out Sony’d Sony.
2:09 With just around the corner next week, we took the opportunity to look back at some of the tech giant's popular ad campaigns and advertisements. We ranked the popular ones based on effectiveness, how memorable they were and the very unscientific concept of general 'feelings.'
Visual nettools for mac. In addition, we do acknowledge that the ads we show below are just one part of larger campaigns that include print ads and other mediums too. Though it'd be great to consider all these parts cohesively, for the sake of simplicity, we keep our dialogue mostly about the video ads themselves. If you want more ad-goodness, peep at our honorable mentions below. And be sure to check back with CNET for all our, which starts Monday, June 5.
#9: 1984 (January 1984). Lynn: Being born after 1984, this commercial was presented to me as some big historical Superbowl ad. But I never understood the big deal.
I know I'm going to catch a lot of flak for that. Patrick: At the time, the big deal was that the ad was so original and groundbreaking, not to mention Ridley Scott directed it. But as part of a bigger campaign, it wasn't Apple's best.
It didn't help put a Macintosh into everyone's living room. Lynn: It was so ominous, but compared to Orwell's '1984,' Apple overstated itself didn't it? Who knew that using IBM computers would lead to a dystopia?
Patrick: Yeah that dystopia apparently got worse. In January 1985, Apple released the much darker ' ad in the same vein. Workers shuffle off a cliff while a weird version of 'Whistle While You Work' plays. And this was filmed by Tony Scott, you know - the guy who made '!
Lynn: I would have preferred sexy beach volleyball if that's the case. Patrick: Exactly. #8: There's An App For That (February 2009). Patrick: The original didn't even have an App Store. This was a clever way introduce people to the idea of apps and the. Lynn: Looking back at this ad now, it's not memorable. But it's funny how it makes the 3G look innovative, given what the can do today in comparison.
It's a good trip down memory lane. Look at that skeuomorphism! Patrick: 'There's an app for that' became such a catchphrase, too. I remember joking with a friend that someone should make a rival ad, 'There's a website for that'. Lynn: I wonder if the ad were to run now how different it'd be. 'Looking for a late-night hookup? There's an app for that.'
Patrick: Yeah, just swipe right. #7: Apple Watch Series 2 (September 2016). Lynn: This was like an update on the silhouettes with these kind of vague figures using a visually clear and distinct product. Except instead of assuming these figures are in shape, you know that they are. Patrick: I like the song, but these silhouettes aren't as cool as the iPod ones. I mean nothing sells products like an ad that shows you swimming in a badly lit pool and riding a badly lit bike. Lynn: They do make me feel bad and anxious about myself, as any good ad does.
Why am I not in shape? Why is my life not that exciting?
How come I haven't been in an infinity pool yet? I already bought the $60 athleisure sweatpants. Now I gotta buy this?! Patrick: What did you think of in the middle when the ad pauses to 'take a breath'? Lynn: If they wanted to be more realistic, they should have shown people collapsing and throwing up on the pavement. Or me running my 14-minute mile.
#6: Switcher (June 2002). Patrick: These are fun, light and approachable. The plucky banjo is warm and quirky. Lynn: These ads also mimicked the feeling of hearing about a product from your friend by word-of-mouth, which is the gold standard for any successful campaign, isn't it? Patrick: Definitely. But in a way, Apple presents itself as the sensible underdog against the confusing dominant Windows computer. It does what '1984' did, but in a funny personal way.
Lynn: At the time, Apple was still something you had to be in-the-know about and you could get away with evangelizing. Now that it's the big dog though, you'd be totally obnoxious if you were praising Apple like this.
Patrick: Also, when this ad came out people became obsessed with, the seemingly stoned teenager in one of the ads. She became one of the first viral celebrities before that was a thing.
Lynn: I am unfamiliar with that and I'm glad I missed that. Kind of sounds creepy. Patrick: It was. #5: Get a Mac, aka: Mac vs. PC (May 2006 - October 2009).
Lynn: This was when Apple hit peak obnoxiousness culturally. Even though this ad had a 'friendly' tone it was still kind of pretentious. It helped fuel a lot of Apple backlash and got parodied so much for good reason. On the flip side, it helped let everyone know what the Apple Mac was. Patrick: This builds off the 'Switch' campaign, and still uses Apple's same approach to most of its campaigns: us (Apple) vs.
Lynn: Yes, but with just a sprinkle of ageism. Even if there is only a seven-year age difference between the actual actors. I stand by my accusation! Patrick: All implied ageism aside, when the ads first started to air they were funny and cute.
But over time they jumped the shark and became self-referential. I really do like how despite their differences, you like both 'PC' (John Hodgman) and 'Mac' (Justin Long). Lynn: I liked Long since his ' days on NBC.
Patrick: I liked Hodgman since his days on 'The Daily Show.' So Lynn, who are you, Mac or PC? Lynn: Linux?! #4: Shot on iPhone (2014-present).
Niners To Xers: Apples Switch Campaign For Mac 2017
Lynn: Beautiful people and images? Powerful voiceover by uber-inspiring person?
Content sourced from the users and fans themselves? This ad does all the things! Patrick: I like this campaign a lot. Like 'Think Different', it's inspiring and about showing you what you are capable of creatively. It fits well with the. Angelou and Whitman, way to go Apple (stands on desk and watches Apple walk out the door).
Lynn: Also, these ads were great to build an even stronger fanbase. My friend got featured in a billboard for one of the earliest ' ads. Of course, everyone was stoked for him. Patrick: You know he ain't ever switching to Android after that. #3: Misunderstood (December 2013). Lynn: I was so pissed at that kid the first time I was watching this commercial.
I have a thing about being on the phone in front of friends and I wanted to bat that thing away out of the kid's hands. Patrick: Yeah, that kid is totally 'that guy' filming his family instead of being with his family.
Lynn: Yes, but then TWIST! It was so good at the end. Damn you Apple. Pulling at my heartstrings during the holidays. Patrick: Honestly, I haven't stopped crying since 2013. Lynn: I'd have to say this is up there as one of my favorites. It feels like a beautiful mini one-minute movie.
I'm expecting this year. Apple iPhone 2: Electric Boogaloo Cuts More Onions.
#2: iPod silhouettes (2003-2008). Lynn: These ads take me back, man. These iPod silhouettes were so formative to my teenage years.
They were the theme to my highschool yearbook! I kid you not.
Patrick: As an adult person, these ads wanted to make me dance. Those white earbuds became a status symbol of coolness. They still are, really. Lynn: I also liked the idea of the faces and bodies being silhouetted. I didn't feel intimidated by cool dancers with (likely) super hot bodies while watching these ads.
These people could be me! Dancing in my room with my iPod while nobody's watching. Patrick: Also, I am so tired of U2. Lynn: Ah yes, this would become the for Apple to get the youths to listen to U2. And it just never stopped from there. Patrick: Hey, Bono needs money, too! Though that did look badass.
#1: Think different (1997-2002). Patrick: Wow, this is so touching and inspiring. I love the black-and-white footage and Richard Dreyfus' narration. Lynn: This is one is my favorite Apple campaign. It's sentimental, short and the copy is memorable. It makes Apple users feel what they're supposed to feel - different and probably better than others (ha).
Patrick: Yes, this set the tone for Apple's approach to how it presented itself to its customers moving forward to today. Lynn: I know it made me feel like I was part of a cooler club since my parent's house had a Mac at that time. Not Muhammed Ali cool, but cooler than I could be (which is still not that cool). Patrick: 'Cynical Patrick' wonders though what Picasso and Martha Graham would think of being used to sell computers. Lynn: It was a good thing then that Apple separated its products and these iconic people during the 'Think Different' campaign. It didn't feel too smarmy. Even though, really, every ad is selling you something at the end of the day.
Honorable mentions: Apple has had many ad campaigns over its history. Here are some honorable mentions. (1995) - This one stars George Clinton, but others in the campaign included Hunter S. Thompson, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Marlee Matlin and Dave Stewart. (2003) - Verne Troyer (Mini Me) & Yao Ming using Apple PowerBooks on a plane - Jeff Goldblum narrates. (2007) - This introduced the iPhone to the world. (2008) - It's all about a thin computer and an interoffice envelope.
(2014) - A series of short narratives about how people use the iPad. We are just two people, but we'd like to hear your thoughts, too. All respectable debates are welcome in the comments.