Holmes Report Blog

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Guess I'm Not the Only One Who Hates the New Apple Ads: Slate advertising columnist Seth Stevenson takes a look at the new Apple campaign—the one in which two actors, representing a Mac and a PC, discuss their relative merits against a stark white backdrop—and comes away unimpressed.

While conceding that the ads are striking and memorable, Stevenson says they “don’t work on me. They are conceptually brilliant, beautifully executed, and highly entertaining. But they don't make me want to buy a Mac.”

His problem is with the two characters. The guy representing the Mac “is just the sort of unshaven, hoodie-wearing, hands-in-pockets hipster we've always imagined when picturing a Mac enthusiast. He’s perfect. Too perfect. It's like Apple is parodying its own image while also cementing it. If the idea was to reach out to new types of consumers (the kind who aren't already evangelizing for Macs), they ought to have used a different type of actor.

“Meanwhile, the PC is played by John Hodgman—contributor to The Daily Show and… all-around dry-wit extraordinaire. Even as he plays the chump in these Apple spots, his humor and likability are evident…. The ads pose a seemingly obvious question—would you rather be the laid-back young dude or the portly old dweeb?—but I found myself consistently giving the ‘wrong’ answer: I’d much sooner associate myself with Hodgman.”

I have other objections to the Apple ad. It just doesn’t ring true to me. The guy who’s supposed to represent the Mac seems laid back, hip, cool. These are the qualities Apple wants us to associate with its brand. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would try to strip away the First Amendment rights of bloggers, or try to get books banned, or use slave labor to build iPods, or generally act like a “cussing, abusive lout who seems to revel in bringing women, in particular, to tears by verbal abuse.” In other words, it’s the very opposite of authentic.

On the other hand, as Stevenson points out, “Mr. Mac comes off as a smug little twit, who (in the spot titled ‘WSJ’) just happens to carry around a newspaper that has a great review of himself inside.” Somaybe the ad is a little more authentic than I—or its creators—thought.


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