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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cool Kids use Apple Laptops

I spied a couple of Apple computer ad placements last week. One was in the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (on Netflicks) and the other in a 30 Rock rerun. A few days ago I spotted DotEarth blogger, Andy Revkin with a Mac computer in his lap.

In the first two cases, the video producers were being paid to prominently, yet subtly, display the Apple logo.

Not the case with Andy's display of the logo. It was this marketing that successfully convinced him to pay significantly more for a laptop that not only does not perform any better than any number of its competitors, but also has access to less third party software.

Of course, we are all manipulated in this way to one degree or another every time we buy a car or any appliance for that matter. Is there really any difference between a Chevy and Ford pickup? Suggest that to an F-150 owner and you will be told otherwise in great detail.

Ironically, six minutes into this video of the Wrigley Lecture Series you will find the not-so-subtle original ad for the Macintosh computer.

What do Apple placements have to do with environmental issues? Revkin is shown above attending a seminar about human behavior as it relates to acceptance of climate change. One of the presenters insists that we have to understand how easy it is to manipulate our subconscious and even presents two ads to make his case, all the while Andy is sitting on stage with his Apple logo ablaze.

I'm old enough to remember when the Macs first arrived. As an engineer I had been using personal computers at work to crunch numbers. They required the user to type in commands to tell it what to do. The idea of clicking on icons had not arrived yet.

For example, if you wanted to save a file you had to type in the correct code to tell the computer what you wanted to name your file and where you wanted to store it (C drive, floppy drive, etc). These commands were translated into actions by the disc operating system (DOS), which was originally developed by IBM but was eventually bought by Bill gates and marketed by his company, Microsoft.

A friend of mine bought one of the first Macs because she (to this day and just recently) describes herself as a technophobe. Typing in DOS commands was not her cup of tea. There was no internet, and like most early personal computer owners, she really didn't have a use for it other than as a word processor. However, before they became ubiquitous, owning a personal computer was a status symbol. Having one you could actually operate was icing on the cake.

The early success of the first Macs was based on their ease of use (icons that you could click instead of typing cryptic computer language commands).

When Microsoft copied the icon idea the Mac quickly lost its advantage although the myth that they are easier to operate (even though they no longer are) persists to this day. I know two grandmothers who bought Macs for that reason but later bought PCs after dealing with the myriad problems that crop up from the lack of compatible software.

For a while Macs were being looked upon by many as over-priced computers for retirees and other technophobes still thinking they're easier to use, which was only true for a short time, long ago. Macs had become the PC of choice for dummies the technically challenged.

I could predict pretty accurately who owned Macs by how technically challenged they tended to be. But that's changing fast.

Apple has been working hard to overcome that image by promoting them as status symbols this time around. You can hardly buy a more expensive laptop. Surely you must be getting something for all of that money, and if you haven't noticed, all the cool kids (like Tina Fey) use Macs. Macs are transforming into the PC of choice for the cool kids. Witness the adds where the cool guy (the Mac) makes fun of the nerd (the PC). The nerds are getting the tables turned on them by the cool kids always.

I was recently chatting with a guy who actually programs for a living. I was taken aback when instead of telling me that he's a Unix user and that he wrote his own browser code, he told me that he owns a Mac. This guy was a stereotypical computer nerd--pear-shaped, pony tailed, wearing black t-shirt, pants, socks, and shoes. The shirt even said "I'm not slacking off. My codes compiling." Maybe he was a poseur, or maybe Apple's efforts are paying off.

We are wired to want to be like the cool kids, and marketers know it.

Update: Recently ran into this one while watching Kick-Ass on Netflicks. Maybe Apple placements have become a fad among film makers?

Update: Read this well-written blog article on the passing of Steve Jobs:

It’s not worth getting all hot under the collar about how closed down and un-hackable modern Apple hardware is, but it is worth noting those attributes: they’re simply a consequence of the purpose of modern Apple hardware, which is not for you to learn how electronics work or learn how to write programs or come up with interesting new ways of doing things (or even interesting new things), but simply for you to play around. They’re toys. No-one ever got hot under the collar because their Barbie Doll wasn’t fully user-serviceable; it’s a toy. If you want a toy, by all means, buy one. If you don’t want a toy, buy something else. (Again, Apple computers are still quite usable as computers, and I understand those who find Apple computers meet their practical computing needs, but throughout Apple Phase 2, they’ve only ever gone in a more toy-like direction, never back the other way.)

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1 comment:

  1. Yeah. True.
    They LOOK cool, maybe feel cool... but the truth is that they SU#K. And they cost WAY TOO MUCH for what they can really do. :)

    Product placement is an interesting thing you know ? I did a power point presentation regarding this , for school.
    Products won't sell themselves ya'know ?... They have to be helped somehow. That's why you see cars that bare the Windows Mobile logo, or the Coca-Cola logo...
    That's why we have LG stands in the Mall to promote the 3D Cinema effects of their new wave of LED TV's.
    That's why we see banners of Antonio Banderas / Beckham wearing POLICE(R) glasses.
    Snoop Dogg, showing support for the new ADIDAS Star Wars collection.
    Beyonce + Loreal
    Usher, promoting his perfume. Fergie promoting her Outspoken perfume in collaboration with Avon.
    And let's stick to the movies : Transformers. Do you think Chevy's Market Share went up in these last couple of years ? I'm guessing YES. They are doing a lot better than Ford is right now...
    The Lexus 2054 concept made especially for MINORITY REPORT
    The Audi RSQ made for I,Robot. Well this one turned out to become the R8 we all know and love, seen in movies such as Iron Man (recently).
    Uhm, Justin Timberlake, staring in a short-film called THE NEXT BIG THING - promoting the Audi A1. :)
    The other well-known short-film made for the launch of the Xperia X1 from Sony Ericsson. (I think Guy Pearce was in this one)
    Linda Evangelista (famous model) sporting LG PRADA II...
    Speaking of I,ROBOT, the guys from Orange County Choppers made a custom bike, just for Will Smith with the occasion of the film's launch. Of course it was presented on that respective day.
    SONY VAIO laptops appearing in Quantum of Solace and other Sony Ericsson gadgets featured in 007 movies.
    How about the NOKIA N8 used in TRON LEGACY ?
    Dr. Dre is doing pretty well with his HP ENVY with Beats by Dre audio. DELL is doing fine with their XPS models that have JBL integrated speakers.
    We find the BANG AND OLUFSEN signature on the new Asus N series. N53/55/75...

    On topic, regarding Apple. They manage pretty good with their image, seeing that Jobs died and all... But only people who don't do their research before buying such things are foolish enough to be manipulated by the TV or other means.

    :) It's a beautiful world we live in...
    Just try not to get fooled and make your decisions wisely. Do a lot of research before buying stuff. Cuz you might realize it's not what you need and nor what you really wanted.


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