Mar 10

iPad commercial ships early

iPad may not be shipping for another three weeks, but the commercial made a sooner-than-expected debut on the Oscars last night. After the mixed reactions to the product itself, it was interesting to see how Apple plans to present iPad to the masses.

First reaction here: not exactly shocked.

A little background first. Most who don’t see the big deal in iPad criticize it for being “just a bigger iPhone.” My personal opinion is that iPad is going to be a very big deal — because it’s “just a bigger iPhone.” The iPhone OS, multitouch and the App Store are the key ingredients for revolution. iPad delivers what was missing: a bigger screen and better processor. By doing this, it will liberate developers, revitalize the publishing industry and, for a great many people, make everyday uses of a computer happier.

So back to the commercial. I find it interesting that iPad’s commercial is, well … a bigger version of an iPhone commercial.

It’s basically the same shtick, amped up. We get more screens, more content, more uses, more fingers, all set to the same kind of soundtrack. Instead of being cradled by Mr. Hand, iPad is nestled in Mr. Lap.

It happens fast, so you need to watch it a few times to get the full range of what iPad can do. The truly curious may do this, but for most the message is simple: iPad can do a whole lot of cool stuff. That may well be enough, since the buzz is what’s going to sell this thing in big numbers — as soon as the influencers start getting it in their hands.

As a believer, though, this spot leaves me with the same lament I had after the iPad launch. I love the product, but Apple’s telling of the tale doesn’t feel big enough yet. I was hoping this commercial would breathe some fire into it. Maybe that’s in the next one.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe iPad is another revolutionary device, on the same level with iPod and iPhone. I still believe the critics will end up feeling a bit foolish. For the moment, though, this revolution remains fairly well disguised.

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  • Paul

    Hi Ken,

    Neil Curtis slowed the video down to 1/15th of normal speed. (And added his commentary) See:



  • Synthmeister

    What’ s great, is that the commercial shows a real hand with a real iPad using real apps. There is zero hype with stealth fighters, robot arms, meaningless catch phrases, simulated screens, etc. The product is the star.

    That also makes the commercial incredibly cheap to produce.

  • neilw

    I think Apple is talking small here because no one is buying the big tale. So, they’re going to sneak in the door with the general appeal of multitouch apps on a big screen doing more than ever before. And the big tale will unfold on its own, if/when large scale adoption picks up.

    If you look at the backlash against the hyperbole of the original announcement, it’s very hard to sell the “revolutionary” story at this point. Some will get it, some won’t. But everyone will think it’s cool to see text live-flowing around an image in a word processor, or using touch to select a bunch of emails.

    I think low-key was the right way to go here. I liked it, and it really made me want one, even though I can’t really justify it at this point.

  • ken segall

    I should probably have been more clear. I don’t mean that Apple should necessarily be boldly proclaiming “revolution.” What I’m really talking about here is a purely creative issue. As we all know, there are a hundred creative paths a company can take when they introduce a new product. This iPad commercial seems to be one of the safer ways they could have gone — simply use the same style they’ve used for all this time with iPhone. When you are Apple, and you have a product you believe is going to excite people in new ways, you do something that makes people stop and take notice. I do agree that “the big tale will unfold on its own” — but that hardly prevents you from doing something more interesting and/or exciting.

  • D W

    I think the device is cool. BUT why is everybody loving a device that has DRM, and is built in to just one ecosystem. If Microsoft was doing this, people would be screaming. I believe that Apple is heading to an anti-trust very soon.

  • Harry

    As far as the creative for the commercial goes, I’m not that surprised that Apple decided to go with creative that is consistent with the iPhone and iPad. I have to think that Apple and the Agency believe that the “i” is the brand and that the iPad is just an extension of that brand. So, consistency in creative is called for. When Apple has their next truly revolutionary product they will drop the “i” tag in favor of a new line of products and new creative.

  • Stephen Sonnenfeld

    My take is that Apple’s has come to the conclusion that they occupy a position held by no other company in the world – a brand so strong and respected, with products so beautiful and unique, that the only advertising they require is to simply turn the camera on, play a product demo and insert some catchy, mildly hip music. Why distract the viewers attention from this stunning device and remarkable UI with any other creative elements?

    I was once pitching the Red Lobster business and they gave us a creative brief with instructions not to include any “attention vampires” in the advertising, so as not to distract from the splendor of watching a squeezed lemon cascade in slow motion over a steaming mound of all-you-can-eat butterfly shrimp. Same principle. Hey, when you got it flaunt it.

    I think the real question here is why pay Chiat to make these? This must be an exercise in sleepwalking for them.

  • ken segall

    I think you’re right to a degree, that Apple is simply repeating the thing that’s been working for them. There’s no need to take a chance, so they don’t. But that is exactly what I find most disappointing — because it seems to be contrary to Apple’s historic love of creativity. This isn’t a choice between showing the product or not. Clearly there are tons of ways to show off the product that do not duplicate the look and feel of iPhone commercials. I’m sure Chiat has dreamed up quite a few. It’s a question of how receptive Apple is to the idea of walking away from the tried and true. The answer appears to be: not very.

  • Chris

    You’re being kind. The spot was forgettable, which for Apple, is inexcusable.

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  • The iPad just made every laptop on the planet obsolete. Most people just don’t realize it yet.

  • Oren

    I found it interesting that Apple chose the music and tone of an iPod ad and not an iPhone ad. While visually similar, the music and pace of the iPhone ads have been noticeably slower and more folksy than the iPod ads. It seems that Apple is aiming at a younger target customer for the iPad than the iPhone.

  • Jimi

    I like that they cut straight after Mr. Keyboard popped up, because Mr. Hands awkwardly negotiating a keyboard on a multi-touch screen without resting Mr. Wrists anywhere is just plain ridiculous. I’ve already started preparing my carpal tunnel lawsuit…

  • ken segall

    Made me laugh!

  • Geez guys. What’s wrong with a product demo? It’s an honest way to introduce something the world’s been panting for. Personally – I think this spot is a place-holder. It’s marking time till the Applesphere decides where the iPad fits into their lives. Personally I believe its a new category – and I don’t know what to call it. Doesn’t take the place of anything. “Something completely different” as Eric Idle used to say. It’s way the most interesting intro since the iPhone IMHO.

  • @arthur : same thing wrong with weak product demos from Apple as from Palm (see ken’s next post), that’s the job of the brochure, not the TV spot that costs 100x as much …

    @scott : the iPad might make every laptop on the planet obsolete when and if it can actually function like a laptop and break HP, Dell, Acer’s et al price point.

    $850 for the 64 gig drive iPad vs $600 for a 4gig (RAM) 32o gig drive, Wifi, video, DVD and touch screen enabled HP? they’ve got a long way to go yet …

  • ken: what the hell is with that ‘captcha code’ thing now?

  • ken segall

    @marino & all:
    I had to install the captcha code because my sweet, innocent blog was attacked yesterday, which forced my web hosting company to shut it down. This was one of the measures suggested to restore order. Hope it isn’t too much of a pain. I’ll be looking around at other options too.

  • how does that help? do people with ill intent not see that at the bottom? not being snide just asking …

  • ken segall

    It’s not to keep people out, it’s to keep the bots out. They couldn’t determine where the point of entry was, so I had to strengthen security everywhere: where I log in with my web host, where I log in with the blog and where everyone else interacts with the blog. I’m a good boy and do as I’m told :)

  • John Naitove

    Ken, you talk about how Apple needs to do something bold and new for the iPhone and iPad. I submit that this is what Apple has always done. Just take a look at some of those old Coppos iMac spots. For want of a better way of putting it— Apple does tabletop. Oh, okay, and limbo too. The iPod spots and even the Mac vs PC spots fit this description as well. The look is clean, uncluttered, OSX-looking, and Google-like.

  • ken segall

    Shamelessly, I’ll admit I was the guy who did those old Coppos Mac spots. You’re right, they were just tabletop spots designed to be very “Apple” — clean and stark — much as the original Macintosh commercials were long before that. The difference is, we didn’t run that same campaign for years in a row. I’m all for simple, clean executions presented with Apple wit. But three years with little variation for any product gets stale. As I said in the post, I think the Mac vs. PC spots do what a long-running campaign should do. They vary greatly with new characters, wardrobe and props — and they make completely different copy points. When you see a new spot with those characters, you never feel like you’ve seen it before. After three years, new iPhone ads just don’t look or feel new.