I own a mac book, I have an i-pod. I have resisted in buying an i-phone (because it won’t do what I need it to do for work stuff as well as my treo does). I love the new mac store in the city. I think my mac book is a thing of beauty. I don’t know what would happen if I lost my i-pod.
But I’m a bit “whatever” about apple.
Sure, my mac book has had two battery failures and had to have its hard drive replaced. I had nothing but trouble when I first got my i-pod and tried to sync it to my dell. But the mac book was fixed really easily, and the i-pod issues where all sorted out when I took it back in and they sorted out a new connection cable.
This morning I was thinking why…if I quite like their products, think their retail spaces are fantastic and my experience with their customer service has been pretty spot on – why am I so “blah” about them?
And then I remembered him.
Every year around Christmas time, our parent company gets us together for one big day. The morning is all about company performance, with some inspiring talks form the likes of people such as Peter Garrett and Sam Bailey. And then we all get back together for an evening of well…hard drinking.
So a few years ago I was interested to hear that one of the head marketing folks from apple Asia-Pacific was going to be talking. Many years before that when the first nano had been launched, I had been at a marketing industry evening, where a local apple marketing guy had given a short (and very interesting) talk about the challenges of marketing a global brand locally (how you get creative amongst the strict guidelines laid out etc). It was great. He also told us about the process apple goes through when launching a product. He tried to get some sensible questions out of the audience. (mostly gasping macfreaks creaming themselves about getting their hands on a real live nano before they were on sale the next day, and breathlessly asking about rumours of an i-phone.) The guy looked genuinely fearful, and also showed a real (and justified) concern that someone was going to pilfer his new piece of kit. I normally am pretty quiet at these things, but I felt bad for him, so I asked if the i-pod had done what it was intended to do, and opened up the wider world of apple products to people (this was at a time when no one really owned a mac). He looked so relieved, and said “finally, a proper question…”
So I was pretty hopeful about the apple guy at our company conference and some of the things he may be telling us. Maybe he’d give us his version of marketing a brand across multi-countries, regions, languages, and cultures. That would be good, given a lot of the companies there were just starting out globally. I had worked on projects in Singapore, Russia, USA and the UK that year for some pretty big global brands and had seen some of the challenges that they face. I was keen to hear his views. Maybe he’d talk about what it was like as a brand owner of an iconic brand and how that is protected and nurtured. Or maybe he’d do somehting quite unexpected – I mean this was a guy from apple afterall.
Well, what he did was pretty much unexpected. A sort of twenty minute twisted sales pitch. He humiliated people in the group and told us how cool he was. His opening line was about how “someone in this audience” had called him and asked if they could come in and have a chat. He even named the agency she worked at. “Nice try” he said…but she’d have to come back with something better than that.
Then he did this thing where he made everyone stand up and said “if you are a planner sit down, if you are a creative sit down…” etc (he forgot a researcher, but we had sat down by this stage), until all the people left standing up where IT guys. Then he said something like “These are the guys who are stopping you doing what you really want to do, they are stopping your creativity.” Gee – that’s a great way to stop you getting your products into about 70 companies – by embarrassing the guys who probably would make those decisions.
He then showed some slick but crap corporate video about how “cool” they are at apple in Sydney. I mean, the guy was wearing high waist jeans, a tucked in polo shirt, white Reeboks and a FUCKING PHONE CLIP ON HIS BELT. He was about as cool as Jerry Seinfield. He looked like Bill Gates was his style inspiration. And he was telling us “We are cool, you will never understand, unless you use a mac.”
So, now I see why I am “whatever” about mac. I’ve seen the lifted veil of their cool white exterior – and it’s not all happy and shiny. It’s a daggy, sneering and VERY uncool! The sad thing is, that there’s probably some pretty nice people there. This guy was the wrong person to be talking about that brand.