Apple Archive

'Real People' Overlooks Key Audience

- 2002.06.21

By now I'm sure everyone's noticed Apple's new ad campaign, "Real People." Just to let you know that they are real people, I read Mark Frauenfelder's weblog often.

But does this make these ads successful? I know why Apple wants to put these people up here - they saw the great success that was met using Steve (the "Dude, you're getting a Dell" kid) to sell Dell computers.

Steve is a very effective marketing tool. Why? He is able to preach his message to people of all ages.

30 or 40 year olds who think of a computer as this beige box that lets them do their spreadsheets and calculate taxes will remember Steve the next time they are at the computer store and think, "Kids grew up with the computer, so they must know what they're talking about."

Steve also works on kids by talking with other kids about how they should get a Dell on TV. A typical 13 year old might see the ad and figure "this cool kid on TV uses it so it must be a cool computer."

Are Apple's ads effective?

Yes and no.

Apple's new ads work for those in the 30+ age group. These are people who most likely won't have a lot of experience with the computer and won't know enough to be able to decide what brand or model they would like. If these people already have a computer, they are probably still trying to upgrade their old 486 to Windows 95 or find Mac OS 8 for the Performa 6200 that their son or daughter told them to buy before going off to college. These are the people who will listen to the type of ads that Apple is producing so far with the "real people" campaign.

Unfortunately, Apple is overlooking one of the most important markets. Kids and teenagers, aged 10-20. Kids are extremely influential when it comes to the family computer purchase. If little Joey says to his mother that PCs are better because they have more software, his mother will probably believe him.

If Apple wants to sell computers, Apple has to convince Joey that the Mac is better. And how will Apple do that? No, Joey doesn't want to hear about how Sarah Whistler couldn't move things around on her PC or Liza Richardsonhow Liza Richardson disliked her PCs "stupid little speakers."

No, Joey wants to know how many games he can play on the Mac and how he can easily burn CDs and access any site on the Internet. Joey doesn't want a 35 year old guy telling him what computer to buy; he'd rather have someone around his age.

This is why Steve works so well on kids. Apple doesn't need a "Steve," but it does need to have some sort of ad featuring 10-20 year olds, specifically targeted for that age group.

While I like the overall direction that Apple is going with its ads, I dislike the arguments it is presenting in those ads. Mark FrauenfelderLiza's PCs "stupid little speakers" could have been replaced with more powerful ones. And the possibility that Sarah Whistler didn't learn how to use the mouse properly until after she bought a Macintosh isn't mentioned. And Mark, as much as I like your weblog, I dislike the fact that there is no mention of how the Macintosh was easier in your commercial.

If you go through the arguments, you will notice that most of it is typical marketing department propaganda - not that I think it won't help sell more Macintosh computers.

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