A New Chapter for Apple?

May 21, 2008

The Apple brand is going to have to start telling a new story soon.

In the 1980s, Apple launched their “1984” ad. They were not just introducing the new Mac brand with this campaign, but also a new product category — the personal computer. Apple portrayed their product launch as something groundbreaking, revolutionary and — at least metaphorically — heroic. The words: “…why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” The pictures: a female athlete hurls a sledgehammer and destroys the image of Big Brother. In filmmaking, this storyline falls under the superhero genre. Someone or something comes along to overcome incredible odds and save us. That’s what Apple promised and that’s what Apple did.

In the 1990s, Apple evolved their messaging to the “Think Different” ad campaign. This time their messaging portrayed Apple as a tool that could help you achieve your wildest dreams no matter who you were, no matter what the dream. The words: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers….The ones who see things differently…While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people that are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.” The pictures: stirring footage of the 20th century’s most iconic athletes, artists, adventurers, businessmen and leaders like Albert Einstein and Muhammed Ali. Here, Apple was infusing their brand with a feeling; tying the Apple logo to our heartstrings to differentiate it from the likes of bigger brands like IBM, Dell and Gateway. They’d switched from the “superhero” genre to the “fool triumphant” genre.

Now Apple has squarely positioned themselves against Microsoft with the “Mac vs. PC” ads. The words: features-based product comparisons disguised as amusing skits. The images: PC personified as a boring, uptight, and supremely incompetent older man and Mac personified as a cool, fun, smart and obviously superior younger man. This is Mac’s play to steal market share from PC manufacturers by drawing comparisons between themselves and the Microsoft operating systems. This clever campaign employs a “buddy love” genre to educate on brand differences and build a favorable brand association while eliciting laughs at the expense of “PC.” It’s a great device and resonates with younger views.

Apple’s recent success, however, creates a new challenge for them. They are the reigning kings of digital entertainment and are now stealing significant market share away from PC manufacturers, especially among younger demographics. Attempts to portray themselves as lone superheroes, one-in-a-million geniuses, or the cool David to Microsoft’s stodgy Goliath will start to ring hollow as their market dominance grows. Now a mainstream brand, Mac’s challenge is in repositioning themselves before someone else casts their role just as they have with Microsoft.

It will be interesting to see what genre their newest storytelling will take on and how that will resonate with their target audiences. What do you think that story should be?


6 Responses to “A New Chapter for Apple?”

  1. Scott Says:

    Good point. Macs are no longer just for creative professionals. According to eWeek, in the first quarter of this year 66% of premium PCs sold (those costing over $1,000) were Macs. That’s up from 18% in January 2006. And Apple’s overall retail market share for PCs is up to 14%. A far cry from the sub-5% share that was tossed around so much during the 90s.

    I agree that it’s time to retire the Mac vs PC ads. What’s next? You never can tell with Apple. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more ads that link the three major iHardware brands together: iPod, iPhone, iMac.

  2. radymarketingon Says:

    You might argue that the Mac vs. PC became a fad, a mere contentless vessel, the moment they switched to Intel and are running Windows as an option. To most users, there is little difference between machines that run Windows. Through this lens, it seems like all the details you are providing for their success could mean their undoing and effective loss to Microsoft… The “PC” skeleton means nothing if both run Windows… no?

  3. jimijazz2000 Says:

    I think the next great hurdle for Apple is going to be infiltrating the enterprise. They’ve positioned themselves well in the consumer market for both hardware and peripherals. Now they’ve got to get from the home desktop to the office desktop. My money is on the iPhone as their Trojan Horse. They’re about a patch away from seamless Exchange functionality. That means that they’ll have penetrated office IT. Once professionals start trading in their Blackberries for iPhones and the infrastructure is in place to support Apple hardware, laptops will start to creep in. Unless RIM and/or Microsoft mount a major offensive, I think you or your cube neighbor will have at least one piece of Apple hardware that your company pays for.

    Or they could skip the enterprise altogether and leverage their strength in software…maybe try to own all Internet media. I’ve heard rumblings that they’re going to try and acquire Adobe. Think about Apple owning Flash and Quicktime. Every YouTube clip, every movie trailer brought to you by Apple. And you know they’ll all play better on an iPhone…or an iMac…or an iPod.

  4. radymarketingon Says:

    With all do respect for Apple, my money is on Microsoft – I bet every Apple hardware you mention will end up running some version of Windows (Vista almost looks the part). Besides, nearly all of the browsers using Flash or Quicktime will still be explorere (didn’t Microsoft just launch their competitor to Flash?).

  5. Cuckoldry Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Cuckoldry.

  6. Very interesting site, nice design, greetings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: