Feb 10

Apple says the magic word

Today’s topic is marketing, not technology. But it’s still about iPad, so you may credit me with dragging this topic out for yet another day.

One of the neat things about Apple is that they put as much thought into their words as they do into their inventions. They come up with key words, normally clear and clever, and use them consistently in all communications. If you’re a marketing afficionado, it is a thing of beauty to see Steve’s topline message played back almost verbatim by the world press.

However, this isn’t to say Apple always gets it right. In fact the copywriter in me winced more than once on iPad launch day.

It started when Steve introduced iPad by using the word magic. It was a little too self-admiring, the kind of word that works better when someone else says it about you, instead of you saying it yourself. And it turned out that the magic was just beginning. The M-word was again invoked by Jony Ive on the iPad video. It now appears front and center on apple.com. It also leads off the official iPad press release. Clearly, magic is high up on the official list of iPad words.

Problem is, magic loses its magic when the magicness is unrelenting. Even more important, you can’t expect the magic word to work if what you’re about to share is anything less than 100% certifiably magic. I do believe iPad will change the world, but the technology and the content revealed on launch day just felt too familiar to many.

The iPad video didn’t help create much magic either. Unfortunately, these videos are starting to feel more like an item on a checklist than a creative element. In videos past, we’ve seen interesting celebrities reacting to the product, or some departure from the ordinary. Here, it seemed to be a bit of video-by-numbers, just the usual suspects cultishly gushing over iPad, calling it beautiful, amazing, breakthrough, phenomenal, etc.

Speaking of superlatives, Neil Curtis has put together a hilarious video that reduces the iPad launch event to its essence. If you haven’t seen it, you must click below. Watching this reminds me of a critique I received long ago for an ad I’d just written. Clearly pained, my boss said “I wish I had a nickel for every adjective you crammed in here.” (I’ve gotten better, I swear.) Methinks Apple could use a visit from the Adjective Police.

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  • sarumbear

    They have to start to ‘think different’ly :-)

  • ChuckO

    Couldn’t agree more. The whole “magical and revolutionary” thing seems forced. I can’t hear the word magic without reliving some Doug Henning moments so maybe it’s me but to paraphrase the cowboy in “The Big Lebowski”: “Now magic, There’s a name no man would self-apply where I come from”.

  • Jimi

    My head nearly exploded when I was watching the keynote and Steve said that something was “Unbelievably great”… You can’t make two worthless adjectives better by combining them, Steve… Lets hope combining a phone and a computer doesn’t have the same effect :P

  • ChuckO

    I think they see the iPad as a difficult sell. I suspect they see it as the start of moving in an important direction but that the charms of the device aren’t particularly flashy and so we’re getting an uncharacteristically hard sell from Apple. Hopefully just a one off mistake.

  • If I didn’t know better, I’d have guessed these people were all John Doerr in disguise.

  • Kesey

    What’s that…I need Flash player to fully view all the content of this post?!


  • ken segall

    Damn, I should have thought of that! No iPhone visitors for me…