Apple Pulls Genius Bar Ads After Backlash

For years, Apple has been telling the public to "think different" when it comes to computers, and in the process the company has become wildly successful.

Now, however, the tables have been turned, with a different outcome. For its three "Genius Bar" broadcast ads that debuted during the London Olympic Games, Apple itself thought differently, and as a result it was learned on Monday, August 7 that the ads have been pulled from TV (you can still see them on Apple's home page, though).

The spots featured an Apple Genius Bar employee helping people in different settings—with customers portrayed as pretty clueless on matters of computers and technology. Some consumers and tech bloggers weren't happy with this tack. After all, Apple products are generally thought of as cool and cutting edge, therefore automatically making those who buy its products cool and cutting edge. So portraying Apple customers as ignoramuses struck the wrong chord—with the public and for the brand.

Lesson learned: Sync up your marketing and communications messaging so that it's seamless. Brand messaging shouldn't clash—it has to make sense. In this case, thinking differently wasn't the way to go.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp



About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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  • Beverly Millson

    Who developed that campaign, Scott? It appears to be a sikrit.

  • Jenny Jump

    I can see where the ads might ruffle some feathers, but when I saw the ads, I thought Apple was aiming at a new target market – people who are intimidated by technology, but really want to participate in it. That market is huge. My 79-year-old mom wants a Mac because she thinks my Mac is much easer to use, and is more intuitive than her PC.

  • Diana

    Good point, and good for Apple to have “caught on” in time for damge control to which you just contributed nicely!

  • Byron Allen Black

    Apple is getting a reputation as a smart-ass, vicious to employees (compared, say, to Google) and screwing consumers. Not every Apple user is a blindly-adoring fanboy. The above-mentioned backlash may have something to do with this. (Writer’s a member of the ‘Anything but Apple’ FB group)

  • Optimist Realist

    F34le lost their way some time ago, when they dubbed their in-shop tech guys “geniuses.” Elitism is always a dumb move, and the online world has the same bugaboos as everywhere else. It’s salt in the wound to be condescending when your counsel, service and repairs leave much to be desired — and I speak from bitter, repeated experience. They should join the new millennium, and groom more tech specialists from cohorts bearing some resemblance to their clintele: multigender, multiracial, and multigenerational. The arrogance index would plummmet in no time.

  • Questioner

    How does BUYING something that is supposedly “cool and cutting edge” make the BUYERS “cool and cutting edge” ? Rather than, say, making them “shallow and easily led by advertising” ?

  • Statingtheobvious

    Well, considering that the majority of the welfare population has an iphone or ipad, the ad isn’t off, it’s accurate, and that bothers people (the truth, that is)

  • Carolina

    I totally gree with the concept problem and with the lesson’s learned. Sometimes lab thinking is so out of touch with reality. I believe in hands on experience and Apple should always remember to be in touch. Let’s grant them the ability to at least recognize the problem and act in front of everybody. I appreciate that. Thank you for the article.

  • Lynn

    I totally disagree with this. Apple already knows it has the people who understand computing and social media on board, and the ads were targeted to the vast majority of people who think a smart phone or fancy Apple computer will be too hard to figure out, or not something they need in their everyday lives. The little vignettes on the TV ads showed potential new customers that Apple geniuses would be there for them.

  • Tim

    The Genius Bar concept is elitist from the start anyway. Who the —- ever heard of having to schedule an appointment to buy a replacement charger for your mp3 player (iPod)? The ads only displayed Apple’s true colors. They believe the average person is an idiot. I’ll never own a Mac for that very reason.

  • Kris

    Wow, Statingtheobvious, you must have taken a double dose of nasty pills today.