updated 01:10 pm EST, Thu March 1, 2007
Apple ads overseas
Apple's 'Get a Mac' ad campaign was a hit in the U.S., but the company's efforts to bring that advertisement overseas to the U.K. and Japan conjured up additional difficulties. The ads, which in the U.S. depict a young, hip Justing Long as the "Mac" interacting with an older, office-dwelling John Hodgman as the "PC" struck a chord with Americans. The ads depict the Mac besting his PC counterpart in various situations, usually expressing compassion for the PC when he crashes or catches a "virus." Those same ads would offend most Japanese citizens, however, because in Japan direct comparison advertisements are looked down upon. Japanese culture considers it rude to brag about one's strengths, according to the Wall Street Journal, while the advertisements in the U.K. seemed too arrogant for the taste of some viewers. One columnist in particular said Apple tried to be too cool, and delivered a series of "brutal" coordinated attacks.
"When you see the ads you think 'PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately loveable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers," wrote Charlie Brooker of the Guardian.
Shortly after Apple's 'Get a Mac' ads were released in the U.K., a YouGov poll found that respect for Apple fell in that region. The study surveyed 2,000 people about their perceptions of the Apple brand as measured on a scale from 1 to 100. Apple fell in that study from 14 to 8 in the five days after its ads first aired.
"There was nothing else happening that we know of that would have moved the figure," said Sundip Chahal, brand index director at YouGov.
Apple also may have lost some of its intended meaning in the actors' clothing with regard to its Japanese ads, as some Japanese viewers who haven't adopted America's "office casual" movement pointed out.
"The Mac guy looks like he is wearing Uniqlo, the Gap, or Muji. These say simple and low cost -- low-end brands," said Linda Kovarik, executive planning director of P&G's ad agency Beacon Communications. With regard to the PC guy resembling a nerd, "They're really quite revered now in Japanese culture," she said.