What If Those Awful 'Genius' Ads Were All Part of Apple's Stealthy Plan?

An Ad For Over-35s Who Have Become Apple's Biggest Fan Base

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Apple's "Genius Bar" ads were discontinued earlier this week after being roundly criticized by the creative community, bloggers and fanboys alike. This publication put them among Apple's worst, including the 1985 "Lemmings" Super Bowl ad.

But TBWA/Media Arts Lab said they weren't pulled due to pressure; that they were created for a short run during the Olympics only. Apple, of course, didn't comment.

Snap analysis was that the ads, which strayed heavily from Apple's usual emotional brand appeals, failed miserably.

But now some new data from market research firm YouGov suggests there was at least some method to Apple's madness, an uncomfortable trend that may change Apple's messaging going forward: Apple's fanboys are getting older.

Since mid-July 2011, adults 35 and older have been the biggest supporters of Apple's brand, and its most enthusiastic consumers, according to YouGov's BrandIndex, a daily measure of brand perception among consumers. That's a change from 2008 to 2011 when consumers aged 18-34 were, as YouGov says, "Apple's biggest banner wavers."

That's a significant shift, and a demographic which, YouGov notes, "just may need a 'Genius' to help with their Apple products, as the new ads imply."

The prime-time audience for the Olympics, of course, is comfortably over 35, meaning Apple is hitting the right demo with -- dare we say it -- the right message?

The aging of Apple's most enthusiastic demo, the ones most likely to have heard or said something positive about Apple, is no doubt a natural process. But it also coincided with the introduction of the iPhone 4s, not the revolutionary update some had hoped for. After that introduction, perception among over-35s started to climb. Perception among 18-34 also climbed for a bit, but not as steeply, and then fell off.

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