Apple suffered a rare marketing miss during the Olympics when it aired a series of Mac commercials that were quickly criticised for being bland and making Apple customers look inept.Now, one new marketing report suggests that Apple may have aired the commercials in an attempt to appeal to its ageing customer base.
According to YouGov, a market research firm, Apple’s brand is now more popular among those 35 and older than those 18-35 years old, a big shift for the company. As a result, YouGov thinks that Apple may feel compelled to appeal more to this audience.
“Now that adults 35+ have a higher perception of Apple, it may make sense that the ‘Genius’ ads were airing during the Olympics, where the prime time audience is easily over 35 years old,” YouGov writes in its report. “It appears that the 35+ demographic, which includes Boomers 50 and over, may need more product hand-holding than the younger group – hence the Genius.”
Even if Apple’s customer base is gradually getting older, we have a hard time believing the company would deliberately choose to water down its brand during a huge prime-time event to appeal to this target audience. After all, Apple’s brand power has always been largely based on its cool factor. Making commercials that look like Dell ads and belittle the customer’s intelligence doesn’t exactly help that. If anything, it might turn off older customers too.
What’s more, it is possible to make advertisements that appeal to both demographics at once. Case in point: the Mac/PC campaign featuring actors John Hodgman and Justin Long. So this really just seems like a lousy excuse for a lousy ad campaign.
As Apple’s former ad guru Ken Segall put it in a blog post criticising the Mac commercials, “There’s no excuse for a campaign like that. Apple’s momentum is fuelled by the enthusiasm of its core customers. The last thing it wants is to win new customers at the cost of looking ridiculous to its enthusiastic supporters.”
However, if these commercials are indicative of a change in Apple’s advertising strategy, the company may be at risk of turning off fans and tarnishing its brand.