How Apple’s Healthy Advertising Emotion Enraged One Critic

| Editorial

Our culture has been, for a long time, immersed in war, weaponry, and computer-aided death, both in reality and in our entertainment. In the midst of that, Apple has come out with ads that remind us what we ought to be doing with our fabulous technology. One reaction to that has been dismay and derision.

We know that the vast community of writers, analysts, critics and observers of Apple, or any other high tech company, is dominated by men. Men who are very nerdy and technical. And, as a general rule, those men have all the emotional depth of a lightly applied layer of paint thinner.

This is why, if their wives take them to a chick-flick, they retch, vomit, and run out of the theater in a cold sweat.

It's also why when confronted by the spirt of Apple, as portrayed in Apple's "Designed by Apple in California," series, the reaction is like a nervous school boy being kidded about having a new girlfriend.

This emotionally shallow reaction is showcased by Slate's Seth Stevenson in his critique of that Apple manifesto: "Designed by Doofuses in Californa."

The argument goes like this: Apple hasn't had any new products to brag about, so it has come out with this arrogant ad campaign that actually didn't do very well according to one consulting firm who surveyed "at least 500 TV viewers."

My surmise is that the ad fared below average because those TV viewers surveyed have been inundated for years now by the most blood lusty, brutal, violent movies ever created. After so much death and destruction in our contemporary movies, the first reaction by many male viewers confronted with something of any emotional depth must be, "Let's have a beer. Then go kill something."

The fact that the ad has done better with female viewers confirms the diagnosis.

Don't Kill the Message

It's okay for Apple to explain what its product design philosophy is and how it contrasts with Samsung's. It's okay to appeal to fundamental principles of human dignity, creativity, and maybe even a little bit of romance or family life and nurturing.

The fact that this ad generates squeamishness, in my opinion, is directly related to the testosterone-poisoned anger and snark we see in reader comments wherein there appears arrogant brutality, mean spiritedness, and anti-intellectualism. If something is found to be uncomfortable, then it must be hated.

Every day, we are exposed to the bad news of death, wars, guns and killer natural disasters. Applied to that, we pour on a healthy dose of lethal combat with aliens, apocalyptic disasters and vampire ghoulishness as entertainment. It desensitizes us.

I think the Apple ads gloriously remind us of what we ought to be doing with the technology we have at our fingertips. It's a bad sign when that kind of inspiration leads to nervous and irritable analysis.

_________________

Ad images via Apple.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

26 Comments Leave Your Own

Lee Dronick

It says a lot more about Seth than it does about Apple.

skipaq

I liked the ads. They were positive and reinforced the importance of relationships. That is to be commended especially coming from a company that makes stuff that is used by some to hurt people.

geoduck

And, as a general rule, those men have all the emotional depth of a lightly applied layer of paint thinner.

Brilliant!. I am SO going to use that (with your permission of course).

I like the series. They are simple, almost minimalist, with just a subtle message of ‘Apple products make lives better’. It’s a spin off from why Apple does not promote their products specs. Dual core/quad core/more RAM/x gflops/yadda yadda is not important. What’s important to Apple, and a large number of their customers is how it works. What it can do.

John Martellaro

geoduck: Cool. Feel free to quote me informally. But if you post somewhere, please credit me and a link to the article.

Lee Dronick

Perhaps Apple could get The Most Interesting Man in the World to do an ad. Or they could get me to do it because that guy totally ripped off my style. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9GYocBqGyA

mhikl

So true. We are lost to the poetry in our world. Apple speaks to the artist in us and those without the artist’s sense, are keen to criticize what doesn’t ring like the Whack a Gopher game.

mrmwebmax

+

Yikes, Seth is one unhappy camper.

Now comes this latest spot. It’s a dire misstep. The worst I’ve seen from Apple’s ad team. Part of the problem is that it burnishes Apple’s brand in general, instead of hawking a specific product.

Obviously that whole “Think Different” campaign slipped his notice. Those were nothing but image ads as well.

(John, BTW, your female viewers link is broken with one to many “HTTP” in it.)

DJ Raymond

I have to say, as a lifelong Apple fanatic, even I find those ads pretty obnoxious. Maybe it’s *because* I’m a lifelong Apple fanatic. “Our gadgets work better than the other guys” is a message I can get behind. “It just works” (even if that’s an exaggeration) is a message I can get behind. Even “look how cool this gadget is.” Fine.

But these ads are representing Apple as a lifestyle choice or something, and frankly, that doesn’t really speak to me. If you make the best stuff in the world, it will become part of people’s lives. If you have to tell people that you’re an integral part of their lives, well… maybe you’re slipping.

Lee Dronick

Mike, we are at the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts.

John Martellaro

mrmwebmax:  I fixed the link, but now the site is down for maint.

Lee Dronick

One of the commenters over at Slate says that Drpid ads are little more than “chip pour in.” I didn’t use the four letter word because the filter here seems to stop that stuff.

Neil Anderson

A walk through the depths of most nerdy men’s emotional souls scarcely gets one’s feet wet.

adamC

Some love hard rocks, others alternative or hip hops and yes heavy metals as for me I love ballads and the latest Apple ads reminds me of them - wholesome, touching and entertaining.

PSMacintosh

The ad just plain sucks!
And its too long, so the sucking continues for a long time.
feeeeeeeeelings…....nothing more than feeeeeeeeelings….....

So it takes a long time to get things “perfect”...........reallly, you’re going to claim that your product is perfect.
WE know that even your best products aren’t perfect.  And we don’t want perfect.  Have you ever heard a computer friend of yours ask for perfect.

These ads are not made by someone steeped in computer-usage all day long or even on their devices daily.

PSMacintosh

For that matter, the new Mac Pro design also sucks.  (So the ads are in keeping with that…..and not reaching their true target audience for the product at all.)
It’s mostly beauty over function. And is going to be the subject of many jokes!

You can’t open its innards and install stuff.  You can’t fit it into a rack.  It’s designed for the Interior Designer (and that’s about it).....to look good?.....like a giant black phallic on your desk. How’s that going to “feel” for the Mac experts and gurus of the world.  Come look see my new Mac!

Hagen

“These ads are not made by someone steeped in computer-usage all day long or even on their devices daily.”

No, they’re made by ad agencies.  But these ads are also not made FOR someone steeped in computer-usage all day long. We are not their target audience. The ads are made for the people who pay more attention to prime time television than tech news sites.

iJack

Every day that goes by, I enjoy reading the posts here, less and less.

George Nostej

You do realize that the firm that sent out the data showing the Apple ads not being well recieved is a Samsung customer?!

Not making it up. Check it out:

http://www.siliconbeat.com/2013/06/28/apples-new-ad-a-flop-maybe-maybe-not/

Ace’s scores are determined by surveys of at least 500 TV viewers, Bloomberg reports. But the wire service didn’t inform readers that Ace Metrix’s chief product is a subscription service that helps ad campaign managers increase their scores on Ace’s own ratings. Thanks to that arrangement, one might expect that the company’s own customers would score more favorable ratings than companies that aren’t customers.

Any guesses on which company mentioned above is was an Ace Metrix customer? If you guessed Samsung, you’re absolutely right. Unfortunately, that’s something else that Bloomberg declined to mention.

Lee Dronick

Stick around Jack, I enjoy your company.

mrmwebmax

+

John, FYI, Macworld UK is up but now the link is giving a 404 error.

mrmwebmax

+

Every day, we are exposed to the bad news of death, wars, guns and killer natural disasters. Applied to that, we pour on a healthy dose of lethal combat with aliens, apocalyptic disasters and vampire ghoulishness as entertainment. It desensitizes us.

I woke up around 3 AM this morning and couldn’t fall back to sleep, so as I often do I went to my iMac. Anyone who thinks John is exaggerating in the above statement; well, you needn’t go to Google News to know about the “news” part of his statement. That part is self-evident unless you live under a rock. But as for his comments on entertainment, I invite you to go to trailers.apple.com and look at the kinds of movies heading our way. He couldn’t be more spot-on in his appraisal of what we consider entertainment.

wab95

Every day that goes by, I enjoy reading the posts here, less and less.

iJack: I’m curious as to what you meant, specifically whether by ‘posts’ you intended the piece itself or the comments that follow.

FWIW, it’s good having you around, so I hope you take time to explain.

Substance

“Anyone who thinks John is exaggerating in the above statement; well, you needn’t go to Google News to know about the “news” part of his statement. That part is self-evident unless you live under a rock. But as for his comments on entertainment, I invite you to go to trailers.apple.com and look at the kinds of movies heading our way. He couldn’t be more spot-on in his appraisal of what we consider entertainment.”

Agreed @mrmwebmax, it’s the not the news that bothers me it’s what passes for entertainment these days.  I like to watch things blow up occasionaly just like anybody else, but the onslaught of violence and other negative influences that are pushed to us every day has reached frightening levels.

daemon

John,

I find your article to be insulting.  Claiming that nerds have no feelings is galling. Nerds suffer from culturally inflicted wounds that have forever marred their psyches. That damage that people like you have done to them leaves them with inability to socially interact on emotional levels.

To sit here in your ivory tower and write disparging remarks about a group of people whom you’re personally responsible for creating is beyond disgusting.

Time to grow up John.

MrTonio

I believe this is a criticism of the average male’s emotional intelligence using Apple’s ad as a measuring tool. I don’t think it was an attack on Apple at all. In fact, I think it should be taken as a compliment by Apple and it’s enthusiasts.

MrTonio

OK, I thought this article was supposed to be a repeat of the Slate article. I read the slate article and found that wasn’t the case. It seems that this guy is the type who gets angry at arrogance and horribly misjudged the purpose in Apple’s ad.

Log-in to comment