1980 – Apple begins to carve out the computer world’s “early adopter” niche by drawing the comparison between Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s revolutionary thinkers, and the Apple computer, which the company touts as a revolutionary product designed to make business practices less complicated and more effective. By doing this, the company captures the attention of those who identify with the Apple’s “visionary” branding and wish to attain a self-image similar to that of Franklin, a wise historical figure that created world-changing products including bifocals, a map of the gulf stream and the lightning rod.
1984 – Making the switch from highlighting business benefits to education and home life, Apple continued to build its base of early adopters by taking a less technical approach and focusing on the computer’s educational advantages and perks, including its printer, modem and accessories to entice parents to enhance their children’s education. This signifies the company’s shift toward an arena that was relatively untouched in by the computer world: fun. This ad aims to create a the first wave of “Apple kids” who would eventually become what we refer to as “Apple people.”
1998 – The “us versus them” mentality. Apple was able to establish itself as the anti-PC and since airing its “1984” and “Lemmings” TV spots, Apple continued to drive the wedge between disgruntled PC users and loyalty to their old computers with ads like this, highlighting PCs’ shortcomings with no apologies. By creating and steadily building a base of disenfranchised former PC users, Apple was able to create a culture, which would soon become a social identity, of Windows refugees eager to latch onto something new, refreshing and cool.
1998 – “Chic. Not Geek.” Apple boasts its hip persona here by displaying a sleek, colorful and vibrant iMac and while implying that PCs are “geeky.” Apple leans on iMac’s futuristic, sleek styling and makes references to the computer’s accessories and ease of use, much like it did in its “why every child needs an Apple after school” ad in 1984. By capturing and advertising a look that the company’s contemporary, forward-thinking audience could identify with, Apple began hatch the modern wave of “Apple people” who were able to express themselves through not only the company’s hip brand identity, but through an assortment of iMac colors as well. Shortly after this ad ran, Apple topped the list of brands that consumers couldn’t live without.
2000s – As Apple continued to grow, iPod’s unique white earbud headphones quickly become a part of pop culture and to a point, a status symbol as the device became the world’s favorite piece of digital music hardware. These ads create an opportunity for people of all ages to identify with and relate to the product and each other by displaying various symbolic places that iPod might be used by the population of Apple People within.
iPod silhouette ads – These ads continue the company’s focus on hip, vibrant people , but leave enough ambiguity as to not exclude people who may not “fit the mold” of an actual photo of a billboard model. Fun, colorful images accent iPod’s iconic white headphones and vice versa, making it clear that a Zune or other competing digital music player is not included in this desirable social circle. It should be noted that Apple rarely shows images of an individual in its ads. Instead, the company uses imagery like this, being careful not to exclude message recipients who may not fit the profile of the model used in the ad, thus creating a collection of individuals able to relate to each other through the Apple products that they use and crave.