Former Apple Ad Man Bashes New “Genius” Ads



You might know who Ken Segall is from his appearance on The CultCast. Ken was a Creative Director at TBWA/Chiat/Day for many years, and worked closely with Steve Jobs, even helping to develop the iconic “Think Different” ad campaign. Now Ken is speaking out about Apple’s new “Genius” ads, and he has some harsh words towards the TV spots.

In a post on his blog, Ken discusses the new series of advertisements, thoroughly picking apart each aspect of the arguments for and against the ads. According to Segall, the new advertisements are “Causing a widespread gagging response, and deservedly so. I honestly can’t remember a single Apple campaign that’s been received so poorly.”

Addressing those who have defended the ads, claiming that they are targeted towards a different group, Ken says:

That’s a seemingly logical defense. It’s also a horrible one. How many great campaigns have you seen that appeal to one target group, but turn off everyone else? There’s no excuse for a campaign like that. Apple’s momentum is fueled 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.

While the ads are a dramatic shift for Apple, change is usually good, at least when it’s change for the better. From Segall:

It’s great to be unexpected. But if you’re not true to the brand, being unexpected just makes you look silly. The Mac vs. PC campaign was unexpected, but its cleverness was in sync with the Apple brand. Absolutely, these ads are very unexpected for Apple — just not of the quality we’re used to.

The entire article is worth a read, especially coming from a former advertising expert. Personally, I think the new ads are reminiscent of the “Get A Mac” campaign, and I actually enjoyed them. I know I’m in the minority, though.

What do you think of the new ads? Has Apple made a mistake, or is this just a little break from the norm?

Source: Ken Segall’s Observatory 

  • extra_medium

    I don’t think you’re in the minority. Most people I see or talk to say they liked them as well. I remember a huge backlash against the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads as well, mostly because the Mac came off like a prick and the PC was the sympathetic character. I never wanted to buy Mac, or any apple product for that matter, less than during that campaign. I have a few now, but I probably would have converted sooner if these ads ran instead.

  • mr_bee

    I think the “old-school” Apple users need to get over themselves.

    People are complaining that these ads make Macs look “complicated” well guess what? For the vast majority of users out there, they are! Not as complicated as Windows machines certainly, but still beyond a large segment of the population’s talents.

    Personally, the only thing I find weird is that they are bothering to advertise these old computers at all. They should put all the money in iOS adverts.

  • shannon_f

    I thought the new ads were pretty silly/stupid…

  • Flor Bogs

    I don’t feel insulted about the current Apple commercials. Hell, I don’t care if Apple’s commercials curse me out. The fact of the matter is that Apple products just work. Everything they make is made with an elegance that only Apple knows how to make. Everything they make is cutting-edge and amazing. Take for instance the iPhone 4S. It has 3G. No phones have 3G anymore, but Apple always seeks to differentiate itself from the crowd and offers us super-fast 3G on the iPhone. Also look at the New iPad. Apple again differentiates itself from the crowd by not offering support for Adobe Flash content, which is outdated and inferior. Everyone else offers tablets at a fraction for the price and have Flash-compatibility. They are such losers lol. Apple’s genius bar has helped me in countless occasions. It is for this very reason that I must ALWAYS live within close vicinity of an Apple Store. Wait and see – other companies will take notice and start advertising in similar ways with the “customer is stupid but worker knows all” approach that Apple takes. Steve Jobs would be very proud.

  • wompwomp

    The ads remind me of my apple TV menu…and that’s not good!

  • Whodakat

    Maybe this guys would prefer to get Samsunged. What an idiot. Its a commercial. If you are basing anything off the lies that you’re told on TV, perhaps you are an idiot? Personally, I don’t think its their best ad or anything, but I didn’t “gag” when I saw it.

    “Apple’s momentum is fueled 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.

    Huh? As an old school Apple guy, I’ll be buying Apple regardless of what their commercials say, as I’m sure will most of the rest of us. How does this have anything to do with making their enthusiastic supporters look stupid?

  • Mike Retondo

    I and everyone I know who has seen these new commercials love them. They appear to be a big hit for Apple as far as I can see.

  • Luis Javier Irizarry

    I personally am not fond of these commercials. Apple for years has established the notion that Macs are simple and an easy transition for other PCs and these commercials do not emphasize that. Other notions that Apple has tried to embodied is that of new, clean, classy, up-to-date, and fashionable as I do not see that in these commercials either as I have seen them in others. The problem itself is not the “message” or that Apple can not be funny, its that it has seem that Apple’s advertisings have seem to sway away from its brand imaging and thats important. I see this commercial showing the “convenience” of having an Apple Genius, but the message is poorly executed. It is trying to appeal to a niche target, which is fine, but you do not do so by alienating your actual target market.

  • minimalist1969

    If the driving force behind Apple is to make the best possible products then why should they accept anything but the best possible ads?

    I agree with Stegall. Damaging your reputation and your brand in the name of targeting a specific demographic is unwise. Once the aura of cool is gone its hard to get back. You can target the switcher demographic without stooping to goofy ads you’d expect from a local car dealer.

  • TheKnightWhoSaysNi

    I don’t mind them, but they imply that the Mac is not so easy to use, so you need a Genius(tm).

  • zen107

    Apple’s past commercials have always emphasized sophistication and intelligence in their consumers because they have made the choice to buy their products. These people recognize style, elegance, and an overall superior product. These new ads are targeted toward the people who can’t figure out how to use multi-gesiture, okay, maybe not that bad but I believe they really missed the ball on this. It may be too early to tell but since Steve, Apple has been more of an evolutionary company rather than the revolutionary company it has been known for. They have made too many steps in the wrong direction, and the one’s that have been in the right direction are far too small given the company’s history. And not to mention the inconsistency of Siri and frugality, on Apple’s part, to port it to older devices. Beta software should not be a major marketing point nor exclusive. It’s next few releases will be very interesting, given the great hype and anticipation for iPhone 5 and iPad Mini. This, once loyal, and long-time Apple customer now finds himself on the fence.

  • Ed Smith

    Even as a hard-core Apple fan … and large shareholder … I must say these new Apple commercials are terrible and an embarrassment. Apple, please dump them asap.

  • Martin Dobson

    viva la Mac vs. PC campaign.