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Apple’s Genius ad not a smart move?

Ken Segall says Apple's recent Genius ads depreciates the "quality" of the Apple brand and deflates consumers' egos.

Apple, for a long time, has relied heavily on marketing to sell their products.  It’s anyone’s call to judge whether or not an Apple product lives up to the marketing hype, but it doesn’t take a “Genius” to know the world’s hunger for Apple’s apples is almost unappeasable at times. 

Despite all the successes of past campaigns, Apple’s recent “Genius” ads are receiving some harsh criticism from Ken Segall—known for his involvement in the “Think Different” campaign.

In recent a blog post, Segall said that the Genius ads don't fully express the quality of the Apple brand.  The “idea” behind the ads were good, but according to Segall the “execution” was poor.

“The ‘idea’ is pretty good. I’m not convinced it’s worthy of an ongoing campaign, but there is some good comedy in the basic concept. The problem is, a good idea is only half of the winning formula in advertising. The other half is execution — and that’s where this campaign went south.”

Yikes, Apple’s Genius ads are causing the company’s image to go south?  This is a harsh rejection from a person that is relatively familar with past Apple marketing campaigns.  Segall argues that Apple’s past ads instill the concept of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things” with the help of an easy to use product.

The recent Genius ads, however, take away the sense of self-reliance, which is a direct contrast to Apple’s past ads.  Therefore, consumers are the ones on the “dim side”, and the Genius employee becomes the all-important figure in the campaign. The element of flattering a consumer’s ego is not there, and if a potential buyer doesn’t feel good about himself then he won’t feel good about the product. 

“Therein lies another problem with this campaign. In the effort to show that the Genius is the most helpful guy in the world, Apple has created customers who, shall we say, are on the dim side. In past ads, Apple has shown “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” simply because Apple products are so easy to use. Now we have thick people who want to be better, but need a Genius to help. Not exactly flattering.”

Segall vehemently objects the Mac vs PC idea, as he believes it downgrades the “quality” of the Apple brand.  Apple is not Best Buy or an OEM like Dell, therefore, according to Segall, the ads should reflect the unique Apple brand and not the brands of others.

“The idea of creating a “character” from an Apple employee is… well…. damn, I can’t even say this without feeling awful… it feels like something Best Buy would do. Maybe even Dell. Between the writing, casting, directing and production, this campaign has a very “local” feel to it. It doesn’t have the feel of quality that has defined previous Apple advertising.”

So Segall thinks Apple screwed up the Genius ads, but if the late Steve Jobs was still around, could such a failure be rectified? 

“Every one of us, Steve Jobs included, has experienced failure,” Segall said.

In the end, it goes without saying that "customers are always right."  You decide the genius behind the Genius ads.

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