Does Apple’s Marketing Suck?

Depositphotos 24060249 s

Who’s marketing is really winning here, Apple or Microsoft? Click through if you don’t see the video.

This post was inspired by a conversation I joined in regarding Microsoft gaining some ground back against Apple. The conversation continued on Twitter with a great tweet from Kara:

From karaweber: @douglaskarr enjoyed today’s post. Snarky is out, & the “I’m a Mac” campaign is starting to read as snarky. (FTR, I’m an Apple fan, too).

I hope this sparks a huge debate. Apple is regarded as one of the best marketing teams in Technology today, but I’m starting to have second thoughts regarding their efforts. Did marketing play a huge role in Apple’s recent success? Or was it simply disposable income? Please don’t mix product with marketing on this – I realize that the iPhone is a game changer in the industry. My question isn’t whether or not Apple has great products, it’s how much of an impact did marketing have on Apple’s huge growth in sales?

Was it really Apple’s marketing that made the difference?

When times are rough and disposable income is down, consumers and businesses have to make more difficult purchasing decisions. Since Microsoft is winning back market share from Apple on items like laptops, it appears that Microsoft is winning the value war. That is, Apple’s marketing of cool, elegant design, ease of use, and less trouble… isn’t working.

That means that intelligent consumers do not believe that the cost of an Apple is worth it any longer. Apple is not making the case… and I don’t believe (nor does Kara) that snarky commercials are helping them. In fact, I think they may just be sounding like some spoiled kids bragging about their newest toy and giving the finger to the establishment (that’s me and you).

It may be time to kill the whole Mac vs. PC campaign.

A key element to great marketing is timeliness. It’s important that your marketing stay relevant to your audience… and changes in the economyare impacting people’s purchasing decisions. As a result, it’s key to adjust accordingly. It’s time for Apple to adjust.


  1. 1


    I think your last paragraph explains why Apple is losing market share. The consumer mindset has changed drastically over the last year or so and Apple has yet to change their marketing strategy. Microsoft has, the under $1500 laptop commercials go right to the heart of a cost conscious consumer.


  2. 2
  3. 3

    I think they are, and have been for some time, marketing to a certain knowledge level. For people who really don’t want to tinker at all with their machines (definitely not me), their marketing is effective since it attempts to show off how simple they are. Their ad promoting the “Geniuses” does nothing for me, I really don’t want to and can’t get to an overcrowded mall during normal business hours, but I CAN search online to get help from the 90%+ market share of PC users. Their “Elimination” ad tries to tell me that only one choice is good, yet when I bought my latest laptop, Mac’s were passed over because they didn’t have the right feature set I needed, but I was able to find the right PC that had everything I wanted.

  4. 4

    I was a fan of the subtle jabs made in the first couple of series of Mac adds. But I thought they took too negative of a turn about 9 months ago, about the time the “Vista bashing” began. Since then, my opinion of their ads has steadily declined.

    To me, the more recent ads do a better job of making existing Mac users feel superior about their choice than it does to bring new users into the fold. Gently (and comically) show the benefits of your product and people will come over to your side. Overtly insult the competition, and indirectly those that use it, and you risk alienation and stubborn refusal to even consider a change.

    I’m not sure how effective the Microsoft Laptop Hunter ads are overall, but they do at least demonstrate the price and variety advantages of Windows-based computers. Me personally, I wanted a $2,800 17″ MacBook Pro, but I purchased a $325 Windows-based netbook. The netbook is the complete opposite of the MacBook Pro, but the price difference caused me to reconsider what is essential vs. what would be really nice to have.

    Apple will always have a loyal tech-enthusiast following, and in addition there will be those that are willing to pay more for greater usability. But the current economy is forcing more people to make decisions based solely on upfront cost, and that has never been a market segment where Apple looks to compete. And their current ads are in no way improving this situation, for better or worse.

  5. 5

    A while back I heard Merlin Mann say that if buying an Apple is not worth the money, then it isn’t worth the money–which I believe.

    Disclosure: I use a Mac at work and a Windows machine at home.

  6. 6

    I think you’re confusing marketing and advertising.

    Apple’s marketing since the return of Jobs has been undeniably brilliant while some individual advertisements and campaigns have occasionally fallen short.

    I believe that the argument that Apple’s recent huge successes are due to marketing is absolutely false. The cornerstone of Apple’s strategy has always been making great products, not great marketing.

    The iPod was a huge success not because of the dancing silhouette commercials, but because it was/is a phenomenal product that was/is far and above superior to anything else on the market.

    Regardless of economic conditions, consumers will always pay for great products. Apple was founded in a recession and continues to thrive in this recession.

    The claim that Microsoft is gaining market-share on Apple may be a bit premature. The reports that I have seen seem to claim the opposite.

    • 7

      Hi Brian!

      Though I mention the ads, I’m still questioning the marketing, not the advertising. I’m also not questioning the incredible products. I’m responding to this comment via Ipod and my laptop of choice is my MacBookPro. My question is how much weight did Apple’s marketing straegies have in their success? Was it simply wealth the played a role?

  7. 8


    I love this discussion. Thank you for initiating it. In my view, Apple has and will continue to have brilliant marketing. The company has persevered through many downturns, much in part because of their marketing savvy and ability to adjust on a dime. The current ad campaign is only one element of the strategy, which I think many of the comments focus on a bit too heavily. I think the reference to the ad at the start put folks on that track. Regardless, Apple’s marketing strategy involves so much more than a piece of tactical advertising. Product planning, pricing, positioning, design, and timing executed through targeted advertising, pr, event, and other direct and indirect sales strategies and tactics will keep this company in the forefront of marketing discussions for a long time.

  8. 9

    Hi Douglas, sorry to leave an off-topic comment, but it seems the first link, that says to click threw to see a video, is linking out to a video leads to a 404 page, “We couldn’t find that! Either you’re lost or we are!”. Again… my apologies for the off-topic comment.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.