iPhone ads appeal to young people, confuse their elders

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What you think of recent iPhone ads depends heavily on when you were born.
A new study finds that what you think of recent iPhone ads depends heavily on when you were born.
Photo: UserTesting

Apple’s latest TV ads are fast-paced and colorful. But a study by a market-research firm finds that Baby Boomers feel these ads aren’t aimed at them.

The analysts theorize this is because Apple isn’t trying to advertise the iPhone to anyone but young people.

This isn’t because the company is ageist, but because older people have already decided whether they want an iPhone or an Android, and won’t be swayed by advertisements. “Smartphone brand preferences and loyalty are strong and difficult to change,” wrote UserTesting in a new report called Why are Apple’s new iPhone ads so annoying?

That’s why the goal of Apple’s advertisements is to catch the eyes of very young people, before they lock in on iOS or Android. “The CX [consumer experience] study found that brand loyalty and awareness may be set long before the participants could afford to purchase their own phones,” wrote UserTesting.

Reactions to iPhone ads vary by age

The market analysis firm showed recent Apple ads to 200 iPhone and Android customers, broken into two groups: Generation Z aged 18-25, and Baby Boomers aged 55 and over. The ads were Sticker Fight, Unlock, and Fly Market.

How people reacted depended strong on which age group the were in. “Many iOS and Android customers in the Boomers age group felt the ads weren’t targeted to them,” reported UserTesting.

One ad did especially poorly, “The biggest difference was shown by the Sticker Fight, ad, with 30% of iOS and 73% of Boomer Android customers reporting that the product shown in the ad wasn’t relevant to them,” according to the analysts. The ad was called “silly” and “chaotic” by Boomers.

By contrast, after watching Fly Market, 33 percent of Gen Z Android customers felt strongly that this product was created for them. Note, these are Android users, not current Apple customers.

The analysts say iPhone ads are all about the kids. “UserTesting’s research supports the idea that Apple is targeting young people deliberately. In fact, since brand loyalty starts very young, it’s likely that Apple is actually trying to appeal to people even younger than those we studied: teens and pre-teens.”

 This isn’t the only criticism leveled at Apple’s advertisements recently.  A former Apple ad man is not impressed with the company’s current marketing strategies.