Driving around LA with colleagues recently, we were greeted by iPad billboards just about everywhere we went. All shared the same clever headline: “iPad 2.”
That got my merry band wondering: when was the last time an Apple billboard or poster actually had a headline. (At least a smart headline in the Apple tradition.)
Before the “iPad 2” headline, the headline was “iPad.” The old iPod “silhouette” billboards had headlines that seemed like novels in comparison — they said “iPod + iTunes.”
I don’t mean this as an indictment. It’s simply an observation. In fact, if I were so disposed, I could rationalize both ways of thinking.
Say no to headlines!
Apple makes things simple. What could be simpler than a beautiful image and a product name? Brevity is its own form of cleverness, and a minimal number of words makes Apple stand out even more from its complicated competitors. Apple has transcended the need to explain things. If you really want more words, there are plenty of them at apple.com.
You’re blowing a major opportunity — repeatedly.
Steve Jobs himself once told me that every single ad is an opportunity to build the brand. Every time you fail to do that, it’s an opportunity lost. Now Apple is missing what its smart headlines used to add, and therefore not connecting at the same level. Those headlines are what originally gave Apple its public personality — they put Apple in a class by itself. Is it too much to ask for a few clever words?
So what gives? Has Apple lost the ability to craft a good headline? Or does it truly believe that an image and a product name is the ultimate act of advertising minimalism, and therefore a perfect representation of the Apple brand?
One argument against the latter is that the most recent images Apple has given us don’t exactly come from the adrenaline-pumping school of photography. The current iPad 2 billboard (above), in which we see a side view of Mr. Fingers picking up an iPad, is about as sleepy as it gets.
So what do you think?
Personally, I miss the little smile that used to come with seeing a great Apple ad. I get that the products are cool-looking, and the visual reminder is helpful. But those three or four words that made you think, “Damn, those guys are good” really did add another dimension to the ads.
Clearly Steve Jobs came to believe that the headlines were no longer necessary. It will be interesting to see how Apple’s creative work evolves now that others have full responsibility.