From just about any seat in my house I can see Apple products. There are iphones (the 3 we currently use plus 2 we are trying to sell because we upgraded) There are ipads (1 mini and 1 regular size). There’s the Apple TV. We have 1 macbook pro that belongs to my mom and 2 macbook air laptops that belong to my sister and I. If I dig around in a drawer or 2 I am pretty sure I can find an old ipod and possibly even an ipod shuffle from years ago.
Apple is a massive part of our lives. My mom was an “early adopter”. In 1989 she had an Apple IIE, a top-of-the-line desktop computer that had green text, an attached keyboard and could even show images.
She loved her computer and was the envy of many of her friends who were still working on IBM computers they had from university. By 1989 Apple was already starting to become the “cool” choice for people. Whereas IBM were computers used for business and boring stuff, Apple were the ones that you could make poster designs on. (which is what she was doing at that time)
Even before 1989 Apple had begun to show that it was the cool brand. The brand that went against the regular, boring world where everyone was the same (IBM users). In 1984 Apple put out what is now a really famous commercial.
The commercial was the introduction of the Apple computer and it was based on the dystopian society featured in George Orwell’s book 1984. I think what the commercial was trying to say was that IBM was like “big brother” from the book. Always trying to make people alike. But Apple wanted to be different. Apple wanted to compete with IBM, a much larger company, and win by being different.
Apple was started by 2 university drop outs, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak so I think that they probably were already guys that didn’t like the boring IBM type world. They were out to create something that everyone would want to have rather than something that everyone needed to have to keep up.
Because the Apple founders didn’t have a lot of money to build a computer AND market it they came up with strategy that would make people want their product more than they wanted an IBM product. The fact that Apple was ready to launch in 1984 when the George Orwell book was getting a lot of attention was probably one of the best marketing coincidences in history. Apple was definitely in the right place, at the right time!
In 1998 Bill Gates was interviewed by Vanity Fair magazine. During the interview Gates said “What I can’t figure out is why he (Steve Jobs) is even trying (to be the CEO of Apple)? He knows he can’t win.” (I tried to find the actual interview but I wasn’t able to. Here is an article about that interview. http://www.edibleapple.com/2010/04/13/bill-gates-on-steve-jobs-circa-1998-he-knows-he-cant-win/)
Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, the company that built PC’s for IBM, was pretty cocky about Apple back in 1998 (the year I was born) but since then Apple has continued to grow and when they started the ipod (2001) and then the iphone and ipad I think the sentence above could be switched around to say that “Gates knows he can’t win”.
Everybody wanted an ipod. There were music players before the ipod but none of them were as cool and none of them had the Apple name and the idea that an Apple ipod would be something that everyone should have. And just in case you didn’t realize how cool the ipod was, Apple put out this commercial to show you how you could take all the cool music from your Mac out wherever you went.
Even the white headphones started to be the very coolest thing to have because no other music player used white headphones.
From a marketing perspective I think that the “cool” factor was Apple’s biggest advantage. They were, obviously, marketing to a younger crowd then the Microsoft users. Now all of those younger people are older business people and since they all used Apple products growing up because they were the cool products, they still use Apple products. So now, Apple sells more than Microsoft by more than double! http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/30/business/how-and-why-apple-overtook-microsoft.html?_r=0.
The tag line “think different” became Apple’s slogan and everyone who thought different, or thought they thought different, really couldn’t call themselves cool if they didn’t use a Mac.
I guess Gates was wrong in 1999 when he said that Steve Jobs couldn’t win.
Apple continued to be the cool company. By the time I was 8 I couldn’t possibly live without an ipod. I had to have one. My sister got one at 6. Both of my parents owned computers but my mom was a die-hard Apple customer. She said she bought a Dell once for business but within a year was using it as a door stop. Apple customers are loyal because Apple is the kind of company that rewards loyalty.
Apple prides itself on customer service so if you have an old macbook pro and you need some help, you can call them up and they’ll help you. Their website has about a million, searchable articles on how to fix issues with any of your devices. And, if you can’t figure it out over the phone or the website, you can just go into an Apple store and they’ll help you out. I think that Apple gives it’s employees (who they call Geniuses) the ability to decide if something is worth charging for or not. If its something simple that they’ve seen a bunch of times, they’ll just fix it for you for nothing. This seems pretty smart to me because, with social media, everyone is going to post about a bad experience or a good experience. So, the more good experiences Apple has written about them, the more people will keep buying their products.
I think one of Apple’s best campaigns is the “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC” commercial. They did a bunch of commercials with actors playing the parts of “Mac” and “PC”. The PC is played by an unknown actor, is more corporate, not as good looking. He wears a jacket and tie and he’s a bit cocky at the beginning of all the commercials. The Mac is played by actor Justin Long. He’s young and cool and has a good sense of humour and is really likeable. He’s not cocky or braggy. He’s just a regular guy. He’s the kind of guy you’d invite to a party or go for a beer with.
The commercials all start out with “Hello, I’m a Mac and I’m a PC”. When the commercial starts you’re not sure what it’s for. Is it for Mac or PC? The PC character is a bit rude and the Mac character is humble. I think that this is the most clever marketing campaign because it actually takes the characteristics of the Apple Computer Company and makes them into a person. Humble, cool, smart, kind, clever. But it also uses the content of the commercial to show some of Apple’s accomplishments compared to PC. If you didn’t want to be a Mac instead of a PC after watching these commercials then you’re probably kind of weird.
Another one of the things that the commercials did was point out what you get when you buy a Mac. Mac’s came with ilife so it has a ton of things like imovie and iphoto and itunes that are really useful. PC’s came with nothing. Mac’s cost more but you got more. For a long time I think people stuck with the PC because it was just what so many people used and it was easier to have a PC talk to a PC than a Mac. But then Mac figured out how to get talking to everyone and that kind of ended the PC advantage in business.
Product placement is a great way to market a product but I think now, in 2016, Apple probably doesn’t even have to pay for product placement anymore. Everyone knows that Apple products mean you’re cool, you’re with it, you’re successful. In this image from a House of Cards (Really popular Netflix series) the arrows point to every Apple product in the scene. There are 9 arrows!! That’s 9 Apple products used in this one scene.
Apple is probably the company that most represents the use of Marketing Envy to sell their product. From the beginning they have been able to use the “cool” factor to get people that were against the boring business world but still needed to use technology to get along to use their products.
I put together some of the coolest ads that have used this “cool” factor over the last 30+ years.
Mohamad Ali (who is featured on apple.com’s home page right now too) was a huge influence in popular culture in the 80’s. He had refused to fight in Vietnam and he beat the odds throughout his life. He as a different kind of thinker and went really well with the “Think Different” philosophy of Apple.
Apple was always trying to appeal to the “think different” crowd. What could be more different than colour?! PC’s were all beige and boring. Apple came out with this imac and all of a sudden computer colours were the coolest thing.
I guess Apple did well with the colours on their desktop computers because colour kind of became what Apple was known for. Since Mac users were already the coolest the cool design work was always done on a Mac. Graphic designers made cool ads and some of the coolest were for the iPod. The silhouette’s with the signature white headphones. Everyone knew what product this was advertising. So much so that the name “iPod” is really small in the ads.
Now Apple is taking it a step further. The iWatch can now completely replace your entire wallet. You can go for a run or kayak and not even take a wallet then have lunch and not need to pay with cash or credit. Again, Apple is the very coolest!
Apple is the King of Envy Marketing. The commercial above, narrated by Richard Dreyfus a famous actor, really shows that Apple is the very coolest of the cool. The company that thought “different” right from the beginning, in 1984. They choose people that are different and Steve Jobs himself became one of the people that could be in this commercial. He changed the way that people thought about personal computers. He turned the computer from something you needed for business to something you want for fun.
~ by Layne O’Donnell. From my Macbook Air.