May 11

Apple ads vs. the fleeting state of cool

You are so damn fickle.

Sure, you love your Apple ads today. (Like this one for iPad 2.) But history shows you’ll not only lose interest in the near future — you’ll be embarrassed that you ever liked them in the first place.

That’s just the nature of the beast in the ad world. What rates so high on the Cool-o-Meter today looks dated within in a few years, and gets unwatchable a short time after.

And it’s not just you. The whole world grows weary of these things. It’s as if the taste and values of millions evolve in unison.

Great casting becomes miscasting. Great acting turns into amateur hour. Ads shot by acclaimed directors, adored by audiences the world over, become faint memories.

Sadly, there is no fountain of youth for advertising. Most ads wear out their welcome about as fast as you can say “Newton.”

The problem, of course, is that everything on this earth starts getting old the moment it’s born. (Except you, of course.) Every new thing — from music to movies, from books to neat little devices — gets more sophisticated. It helps raise the collective sophistication of all of us.

We gain a new appreciation for the new and a new disdain for the old.

What brought on this little outburst? To be honest, I was just looking through my “favorite ad” archives and being amazed that I ever thought some of them even remotely good. And it wasn’t just me, it was you too. Unbelievably, many of them have slipped from super-cool to outright embarrassing.

At least we don’t have to go on public record about what ads we think are cool. Steve Jobs does. Every time he approves an ad from Apple (and he does approve every single one), he’s saying “here’s one I really like.”

Here’s one he really liked some 30 years ago for the Apple II. I, for one, am very glad he grew up.

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  • Drew

    Loved the AII video!

    My concern for Apple is the following line “and he does approve every single one.” What happens if Steve needs to step down due to medical reasons? Is there enough magic in the cannon to keep going forward without Steve’s aiming abilities?

  • Oh, I don’t know that I’m glad he grew up. . . I’m not sure he did at all. I’d not seen that ad from 30 years ago, but I sure got a chuckle out of it. I found it quite creative; it certainly made its point in a rather short hop.

  • ken segall

    That’s the billion-dollar question at every level within Apple. Personally, I’m convinced that (A) the leadership in place will do a great job running the place when the time comes, and (B) Steve’s values are ingrained in everything Apple does. No doubt things will be different when Steve exits the building, but the company will hum for years to come.

  • winc06

    And Jobs, even then, had that star power pull. Nice to hear Dick Cavett as the narrator who probably did it on the cheap because he is a fan.

  • Steve

    I’ve often wondered why, thirty years back, the tag line wasn’t, “Apple, apple, bo-apple, banana-fana-fo- apple, fe-fi-mo-Apple…APPLE!”

  • ken segall

    True confession: I was a nervous junior writer at the NY office of Apple’s LA agency when Dick Cavett was Apple’s spokesperson. I didn’t work on Apple — but one day I was asked to pick up Cavett in a limo and escort him to the studio to record an Apple radio spot, with the LA team directing via phone. He was an interesting (and fun) guy to spend the day with.