Is it really JUST the marketing that they're kings of? Today, most of Apple's marketing consists of showing the product being used, doing what it does best, combined with a few words in the end for the finishing spice. This is where I believe Apple's secret lies.
All ads are (or should be) based on truth, and then exaggerated to deliver a message and/or to prove a point. Fact is, people aren't stupid. We know when something is taken "too far" in an ad or commercial, and usually don't take it literally. Of course, there are cultural aspects to consider when using metaphors as some may be offended, and in return end up biting you in the rear. Read more...
My point is that Apple's ads are based purely on the truth, and in the past, some feel, have been expressed in controversial ways. The "I'm a Mac" campaign in the past was often exaggerated and often criticized as well, but it was always based on some truth. Marketing 101: take stabs at the competition where it will hurt the most.
When I watch an Apple ad, particularly the ones that I personally relate to, I'm sold. Apple shows me what its products are capable of with someone else performing the tasks that I may want to do myself. They are representations of real people doing real things. No technical jargon, megahertz and gigahertz, or robots. Just people.
Critics say the only reason Apple's products are so successful is because they're the kings of marketing. Let's not kid ourselves – they're all absolutely right. Great marketing for great products. It's not possible to create so many affective ads if the products didn't allow it. As many have also said, and will continue saying, great products sell themselves.
Apple's Ad Agency of Record: "TBWA\Media Arts Lab (TBWA\MAL) was launched in 2006 and is made up of a broad collective of creative talent from a diversity of backgrounds and media disciplines. With client Apple at its core, the group develops communication ideas that leverage all kinds of innovations. It is a place for experimentation for new ideas about connecting people with brands."