If anyone ever questioned the value of creativity in marketing, Apple and Dell are currently staging a public demonstration.
Scratch that — it’s actually more of a public debate.
With its new iPad ad, Apple argues that creativity can make a message more interesting and important. With the first ad in its new brand campaign, Dell takes the position that creativity is an unnecessary frill.
Here’s a quick look at two efforts that live on opposite ends of the creative spectrum.
A BEAUTIFULLY SIMPLE MESSAGE
Since Mac vs. PC ended, I haven’t fawned over too many Apple ads. What kind of fanboy am I? Well, we needn’t dwell on that now. This ad is Apple’s best in recent memory.
In fact, this is one of those ads that makes me jealous. It doesn’t try to be clever, it just is. It makes the point that iPad represents a sea change in computing without feeling self-important. And, miracle of miracles, it does all of this without using the words magical or revolutionary.
Against visuals of iPads doing various things in the hands of different people, Mr. Voiceover sums up what makes iPad so darn interesting:
“Now we can watch a newspaper, listen to a magazine, curl up with a movie, and see a phone call … [and more] … because now there’s this.”
Many tech companies fail to grasp that simple, everyday speech can be the most intelligent way to present a product. Here, Apple describes iPad using the most ordinary words, but combines them in a way that feels totally fresh — and important.
This spot is actually a continuation of two previous iPad ads, both of which were more lofty presentations of Apple’s philosophy. In this spot, Apple does not stand up to proclaim “we believe…” (which can come off as arrogant to some). It simply describes how iPad changes the way you look at the world.
This is the toughest kind of copy to write — unpretentious, intelligent and compelling. Whoever is responsible should take a very big bow. This ad fits well with the best in Apple history.
A PERFECT STORM OF NOTHINGNESS
When Hollywood directors could no longer bear the thought of being associated with a film, they used to cleanse themselves by giving the director’s credit to the imaginary Alan Smithee.
From the first glimpse of Dell’s new $80 million campaign, this could well end up being the first marketing effort ever credited to Mr. Smithee.
The ad you see here was featured in a recent Advertising Age fluff piece, accompanied by quotes from Dell’s chief marketing person. So I can only assume it’s for real — even though it looks and feels like a placeholder awaiting real photography. And a real designer. And a real writer. And a real strategy.
This ad is significant because it marks the beginning of what is supposed to be Dell’s first-ever brand campaign. It’s meant to provide the big, overarching message for individual product ads yet to come.
In other words, it is supposed to be to Dell what Think different was to Apple. I’ll go out on a limb and predict it won’t have quite the same impact.
The only positive thing one can say about this campaign is that it will provide income for stock photo sites specializing in hackneyed people shots.
There are a total of 34 words in this ad. 15 of them — almost half — are the same five words, repeated three times. The power to do more serves as headline, theme line and last line of copy.
Why pound these words into our thick skulls? Perhaps it’s to distinguish Dell’s use of The power to do more from all the others who are using it — including Norlift Fork Lifts, Belkin High-Performance Routers, Lenovo Docking Solutions, GE Healthcare, Kensington iPad Batteries and who knows how many others. (The 5.6 million Google results for this line were making me groggy.) This is originality, Dell-style.
And it’s not like the remaining 19 words are jewels either. In Dell’s world, boring words fit like a comfortable shoe:
With a range of solutions in cloud computing, interactive learning, healthcare, efficient IT and global services, Dell gives you…
Basically, Dell is saying that what sets them apart is that they churn out a boatload of stuff. So they choose to deliver an undistinguished message built upon an overused theme.
Makes you want to run right out and buy a Dell, doesn’t it?