The Apple Of A Boomer's Eye
That ad got me thinking about Apple's other marketing efforts targeting Boomers. We often think about Apple -- with its emphasis on beautiful design and cutting-edge technology -- as a young person's brand. Certainly, one could draw that conclusion watching iPod commercials -- particularly from a few years ago. But, Apple also seems to have realized the potential of marketing to Boomers long before its technology and lifestyle brand competitors -- who are myopically focused on the youth market.
For example, back in 2006, Apple launched the "Get a Mac" campaign created by TBWA Media Labs. That campaign, which ran through 2009, featured two friends, Mac and PC. When the campaign first broke, many thought that Mac, the jean wearing, laid back hipster was the younger friend to PC, the dweebie, pudgy -- albeit likeable -- middle manager always dressed in a suit.
But, in fact, as we would learn over the course of the campaign, Mac and PC are the same age and their friendship dates back to their childhood (confirmed in the "Flashback" spot). And, in "Broken Promises," when PC revisits Windows operating systems launches -- appropriately garbed in the historically correct sartorial trends -- we learn that Mac and PC are part of the Boomer generation. (What Gen Xer was in a suit at the release of Windows 2?)
What's striking about these two campaigns -- for the Mac and the iPhone -- is that Apple bucks the trend of how many companies market to Boomers. Consider:
- Absence of "senior" visuals: None of these campaigns uses an "older" actor to visually represent a Boomer as so many television and print advertisements do (think: pharma advertisements). Mac and PC are represented as being "middle-aged" -- somewhere between 30 and 40-ish. In iPhone ads, the iPhone is the visual hero; only the actors' voices are present. In "First Steps," only the baby is shown; voices allude to the other actors. Given that many Boomers don't believe that they are "old," this non-senior casting is spot on.
- Absence of "senior" copy: The scripts never allude to age; there are no direct references to "now that we're of a certain age," common in so many advertisements targeting Boomers. Instead, Apple focuses on communicating the rational benefits of owning and using its products -- albeit highlighting Boomers' desire for technology that helps simplify and mange their lives. For example, a Mac is virus-free and easy to use, right out of the box. An iPhone lets you connect easily with what's important in your life -- your family.
- Authentic, clever story-telling: Apple uses story-telling to illuminate how technology helps a Boomer's life in an authentic and often humorous way. There is no staged, corny encounter between couples on the merits of a product over dinner or between spouses before they go to bed. Those conversations don't really happen in real life -- and Apple's creative team gets that.
Of course, it helps that Apple products deliver on the advertised promises. They have won over Boomers with their thoughtful designs, intuitive user interfaces and inclusion of technologies that make Boomers' lives simpler or more rewarding.
Maybe that's why Boomers represent a third of iPhone users, half of Mac users and the leading group that pays $99/year for one-on-one training in Apple's 284 store locations. Given that Boomers control 50% of all discretionary spending in the United States and that they are expected to outspend younger generations by $1 trillion on technology purchases in 2010, it's a smart strategy.