Mac Lab Report

Marketing the Mac: The Myths Keep People from Switching

- 2003.07.31

We're seeing the beginning of the end of the Switch campaign. According to reports first posted at MacMinute, the Switch commercials are no longer available online, although the Switch stories page still exists.

Combined with the recent "blown through the wall" ad and the joint ad with Volkswagen, it seems that the Switch campaign is about done.

Many Mac Web pundits (myself included) suggested years ago that Apple should directly confront the Windows user with the Mac alternative. Now that the campaign is all but retired, pundits across the Web decry the "failure" of the Switch campaign.

Failure is debatable, but it is certainly true that Apple's market share is not as great as any of us would like it to be. Nevertheless, it is time to begin second-guessing Apple's marketing folks by those of us who have never run a multimillion dollar ad campaign. (It doesn't bother me much. Ideas are cheap.)

For my own part, I'll toss a few sticks in the fire and see if any catch.

I think Apple ought to talk to the people who are causing the greatest problems with the end user. That would be Fred, the guy down the street who works in IT in a big company and has told you that Apple is about to go bankrupt, is incompatible with Office, cannot connect to the Internet, and/or is far more expensive than comparable PCs.

That's right, the old "anti-Mac myth" campaign is overdue.

I think the Switch campaign was fine, but it didn't directly address the Freds of the world, standing ready to ridicule Apple for everything from the long-discontinued candy-colored iMac schemes to the unfortunate history of having essentially invented the PDA market with a device it no longer markets. So instead of showcasing users switching, perhaps it is time to show users getting work done in direct contradiction to specific Mac myths.

Whatever the blowhard says can be directly contradicted by the person getting the work done.

Perhaps Apple is trying to move away from this confrontational approach, in which case an "anti-myth" theme would not fit their plan. In that case, a campaign based on the merits of the machine and its integrated software would suffice.

Whatever Apple does next, I hope it works.

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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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