A few weeks ago, I put up an article about the lack of headlines in Apple’s most recent outdoor ads. There were some strong opinions on both sides, for and against headlines.
With its latest iCloud commercial (above), Apple has now expanded the wordless approach to TV. This ad gives us a series of shots in which an action taken on one Apple device is instantly reflected on another. (At least we think it’s instant — there is no real reference to the timeframe.)
Thank you, Apple, for giving us the perfect A/B test. The new iCloud ad actually tells the identical story we got in the previous iCloud ad. The only real difference is the absence of a voiceover to explain things. Here’s the previous ad:
So what works best? Words or no words?
In this case, I’m of the mind that words win. Handily. This previous iCloud ad is 100% crystal clear. There isn’t a viewer on earth who wouldn’t get it in a second.
The new iCloud ad starts out clear — a photo on the iPhone appears on other devices. But as the pace picks up, it turns into a lot of things on a lot of screens. Without the narration, there’s a lot of pressure on the final title screen to sum it all up: Automatic. Everywhere. iCloud. It’s debatable how well that line even works.
Even if you are personally of the mind that this isn’t brain surgery, and that anyone of reasonable intelligence would get the point — take a look at both in succession right now. It’s unimaginable that anyone could misunderstand the value of iCloud in the older ad. It’s easy to imagine people missing the message in the new one. If you look away for just a few seconds, the story is lost.
I totally get why Apple does things like this. It’s minimalism, it’s cutting the story down to its essence, it’s trying to make the message as simple as possible. It’s a noble effort.
A picture really is worth a thousand words — but sometimes it helps to hear just a few of them.