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Apple removes 'Genius' ad series from its website, YouTube

updated 03:06 pm EDT, Wed August 22, 2012

Played well with some demographics, but caused controversy

After pulling the ads from television, Apple has now removed the "Genius" series of three ads that aired during the Olympics from its website and YouTube channel, apparently considering them a failed experiment. The ads, which featured an Apple Genius (as seen in the retail stores) helping customers more fully utilize their Macs, drew criticism from some quarters.

The chief complaint about the ads seemed to be that they were a marked departure from the understated, poetic ads that had recently promoted the iPhone, iPad and Siri. The ads were intended to be lighthearted and humorous, reminiscent of the "Get a Mac" campaign, but riled some Mac users who saw the customers -- new Mac owners -- as clueless or stupid, notes MacRumors. The report also noted that Apple does routinely remove older ads (selectively) from its website over time.

The ad's intent was clear -- that there is plenty of after-sale resources if users switch to the Mac, so one needn't be afraid to do so -- but was felt to have been clumsily executed. MacNN conducted a focus group on the ads when they first appeared and found that the spots were warmly embraced by older and beginning users, but disliked (sometimes quite intensely) by more advanced and younger users, who could more easily identify with the Genius character than the buyers who were the subject of the ads.

The divide between those who feel they are "technically illiterate" and those who have grown up with computers (and thus are not intimidated by their complexity) has been a marketing challenge for a number of companies. Dell alienated older audiences with its youth-oriented "Dude, you're getting a Dell" campaign, while Apple's "Get a Mac" and more generic "product as hero" ads appeared to be well-liked across all ranges of users and increased interest in the products with families, women and seniors.

Apple said at the time the ads were intended for "first run" only during the Olympics and has continued to feature the ads on its website for weeks afterwards, but the company is known for quietly withdrawing promotional materials that fall flat with the public.

Apple had hedged its bet with the ads by also continuing to run the recently celebrity-featured ads for the iPhone 4S and Siri, the latest one starring director Martin Scorsese. The company also debuted a new iPad ad that again showcases applications available for the tablet.

by MacNN Staff





  1. edac2

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-08-06

    Apple's "experimental" commercials were truly dreadful and are a scary omen of what might happen to Apple in the post-Jobs era. They were to advertising what the Performa was to computers. If there is a keynote for a post-Jobs device that lacks his polish, Apple's stock will crash faster than you can say Bandai Pippin.

  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-28-08

    There are always those who take everything too seriously... and usually they are former PC users. Of course in the PC world there was a "high priest effect" involved whereby 15 years of struggling with c-r-a-p meant you had paid your dues and since Apple is supposed to be "easier," complaints arise. These so-called technically literate oafs (really, that's what they are) do not REALLY know the vast majority of the public who become confused all the time with changes and who want to make sure they don't purchase the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. I have plenty of computer "unsavvy" customers and the deal is to TREAT them with respect.

    This Apple bashing and Post Jobs bashing is absurd. Most of us REAL Apple users, owners, and lovers just want you pervs to go back to your PC caves. And for all of you who are so technically smart why don't you just not watch the commercials, no doubt they weren't meant for you anyway.

    I do not get you complainers (esp. the media)--if you don't like something just don't BUY it! How many of you geniuses realize that one of the greatest things under Steve Jobs' watch was having the BEST SUPPLY man in the world at the helm? Tim Cook! He made Apple tons of money and now that the stock is higher than it ever was under Steve's watch, you are still complaining and still prophesying... and you are still wrong. It's easy to "play" with someone else's money.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I'm totally with BobFozz on this. Those ads weren't aimed at power users or hardcore Mac people like us. They were aimed at a different demographic that (it's painfully apparent) some Mac users can't relate to.

    I'm not sure the ads were perfect, but I've been pretty bored with the celebrity ones too -- I think the Genius ads were better than those, though I might agree with some who say the "customers" in ads were just a bit TOO dimwitted. Tone that down a bit and you might well have had a winner with the general public.

    What Apple should really consider is a campaign that challenges iPhone and iPad owners to consider "completing the set" by buying a Mac. That's sort of where these ads were trying to go but weren't quite there.

    PS. To those who really slam the Genius ads -- do you watch commercials at all? Apple's worst ad EVER (and these aren't them, believe me) is better than easily 95 percent of anyone else's ads. Get some perspective!

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