Who came first – The Mac Guy or the Mac User?

That Mac Guy in the Apple ads is pretty confident.  He knows the Mac is a superior machine and so he can afford to be nice to the poor PC, who can’t really help being inferior.  Afterall, it’s not that he isn’t a nice guy, but it’s just that he’s not Mac.

That’s the basic theme of the Apple spots, featuring the Mac Guy.  Here’s a great example of how Apple has positioned the product and personality of their products.

They’re funny, memorable and different.  They’re also very spot on, when you think about your favorite Mac user.   Most Mac users I know (myself included) feel a little cocky about the fact that they’ve discovered (in their opinion) the superior computer. 

In fact according to a recent article on AdAge.com, Mindset Media did a study and found that the ad’s personifications of Mac users was dead on.  Their research "mind-set profile" — a psychographic ranking system that scores respondents on 20 different elements of personality — found Mac users to be more assured of their superiority, less modest and more open than the general population.  (The article goes into more depth on the study…a good read)

On the flip side, the one and only area where PC users did stand out as statistically different was in creativity — low creativity, that is. Mindset Media found they tend to be realists who are emotionally steady and work well with what they’re given.  (Sorry, PC readers, I just really could not resist.  I know lots of you are very creative….despite what the study said!)

But here’s the marketing question.  Which came first?  Has the Mac Guy influenced and shaped the Mac Users’ attitude?  Or does Apple have a remarkable handle on their customers and was able to create Mac Guy as a compilation of all their Mac Users?

Marketing question #2 — what do you think the impact is, from the Apple brand perspective, of this alignment long term?

11 comments on “Who came first – The Mac Guy or the Mac User?

  1. Shama Hyder says:

    I think it’s an incredible idea. Their brand is flexible enough to cover “future” generations of MAC users as well.

  2. Shama,

    And those future generations will take their cues from the Mac Guy….furthering the brand’s alignment with the marketing.

    It’s really pretty brilliant.

    Drew

  3. Arlin Pauler says:

    I don’t for sure about the long term effect of this. I do have an opinion about its current impact though.
    I’m a PC user by default. Mostly because Apple has done such a good job of keeping it a secret from me for so long. I am very pleased that they are finally letting the rest of us poor uncreative and “less than” members of society know about the merits of their product. I have always wondered why they didn’t put up more of a fight in the market place for recognition as the originator of the true personal computer. After all, who knows how long it would have been before IBM or anyone else would have bothered with such an idea of an affordable and user friendly product.
    I think Apple may well have felt so superior that they didn’t need to lower themselves to such a common place as competing for market share. While this makes for a really cool philosophical stance, it’s not a very smart marketing move in my opinion.
    So is there a marketing point in this? I think so. It is that superiority can be a serious short coming. I am not using an Apple computer as I write this because their elitism was in part behind their willingness to not fight for recognition.
    They had a real branding opportunity. I think that while later is better than never, if they had gotten off there seniority mentality and done then what they finally doing now, I and a lot of other default PC users would be using an Apple.
    I guess superiority turns out to be a double edged sword.
    Have a fun and rewarding day, Arlin.

  4. Arlin,

    Interesting perspective — thank you. I’m not sure Apple didn’t want to engage in the fight for customers. I always saw it as they were going to engage by being themselves — not trying to be like a PC.

    So, in the world of branding, they proudly stood tall, being who/what they are — and let the consumers that connected with that message come buy and those that it didn’t — could get a PC.

    But, I do see what you’re saying about the arrogance being a little off-putting.

    Drew

  5. Cam Beck says:

    “more assured of their superiority, less modest and more open than the general population”

    The last two seem to be mutually exclusive to the first. Is it possible to have both?

    It reminds me of the Edmund Burke quote, later repopularized by Ronald Reagan in 1964 – “The problem isn’t that they’re ignorant. It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

    But then, I use a Mac, so where does that leave me? 🙂

  6. Cam,

    An interesting question. I wonder if by open they meant open-minded, socially. My perception is that the average Mac user is on the liberal side, socially and in terms of politics, world issues etc.

    Of course, that’s like saying all agency employees have long hair and smoke dope…

    Drew

  7. Herr (Mr., Sir?) Kaiser,

    Very interesting video — thank you. I think, bottom line, the ads have become entertainment much more than an advertising vehicle. Not sure I’d pay a million+ to entertain the masses.

    I can remember, early in my career, being wooed by one of the big agencies. One of their selling points to the job was that I’d get to write/work on a Super Bowl ad for this particular client.

    For them…that was the pinnacle of opportunities. For me, it meant even back then, we weren’t a good fit and I didn’t take the job.

    Drew

  8. I.R. Palmer says:

    First, kudos to you for engaging those of us on your blog. Now to your questions, I believe there is no way that the personae was created first…particularly after just having attended MacWorld. Apple gets their customers and then some. They take what a P&G does in living with their customers, but then goes beyond by translating their learning into innovative products and “experiences.” Not sure what to forecast about the long term effect, but it would be interesting if they made the PC get larger and older while MacGuy stayed timeless.

  9. Ian,

    Thanks for the compliment but I just lob up the topic. You guys do all the heavy lifting in the comments section.

    Was this your first MacWorld? How did it compare with your expectations?

    I think you’re right. I believe the persona grew out of the Mac user. But, I also think that it’s now become a symbiotic cycle, where one solidifies and strengthens the other.

    Brilliant either way. With the new laptop, the Mac Guy would have to get younger and lighter!

    Drew

  10. MacSuckarse says:

    Macs are horrible, and crash more than PC’s from the studies I’ve read by unbiased third parties. PC’s have a much broader program range in the creative area. All good music I’ve heard has been helped by a PC, and nearly destroyed by a Mac.

  11. Mac,

    I could not disagree more…but that’s the beauty of the world. We both get to keep our opinions!

    I doubt the Mac versus PC debate will ever be resolved. Too many strong supporters on both sides.

    Drew

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