Apr 12

Some fresh air for Siri

Apple has always had a talent for creating great advertising. It’s one of the few companies on earth who can claim great ads as part of its heritage. In fact, it’s one of the few companies whose personality has largely been sculpted by its ads, going all the way back to the beginning.

That’s what happens when your CEO has a passion for marketing.

However, Apple is only human — which is a double-edged sword. Though Apple loves to keep surprising us with creativity, it is sometimes hesitant to rock the boat when things are going well. iPhone ads, for example, fell into a comfortable format for at least a couple of years. Mostly, we’d see a hand holding an iPhone taking us through a parade of apps. The ads were clear and effective — but they weren’t of the “wow, did you see that ad last night?” variety.

Thankfully, Siri helped juice up iPhone’s ad presence. With apps fading as a competitive advantage (Apple has more, but Android users don’t feel deprived), Apple suddenly had a game-changing new feature to show off. These ads have also been clear and effective — and wow-inducing at the same time.

Now it’s time for a new wave of iPhone ads. Siri is still the hot feature, so will Apple give us more of the same? Well, yes and no. We still see Siri in action, complete with screen shots, but this time Apple is doing something it hasn’t done for a while. It’s using celebrities. And it works really, really well.

Interestingly, these celebrities actually make the spots more human and relevant — which celebrities often don’t do. Whereas the previous Siri spots showed us a random collection of actors calling upon Siri in a variety of unrelated clips, the new ads focus on how one person might use Siri in his or her daily life.

Granted, we’re not looking at reality. Somehow I doubt that Samuel L. Jackson actually walks around his house conversing with Siri like this. If he does, I feel great sorrow for him. But hey, this is advertising. It’s supposed to make a point memorably, and these new spots do that — with great effectiveness. The second spot, featuring Zooey Deschanel, works in much the same way, summoning Zooey’s quirky adorableness. (See that here.)

Kudos to Apple for stepping up its iPhone game, and for not shunning celebrities just because they’re too expected or too easy. The celebrities Apple has chosen are actually quite unexpected, and tell a story remarkably well.

Note that Apple is not hiring a celebrity spokesperson to become the face of iPhone, appearing in ad after ad. It is using celebrities in a one-time fashion, with each one contributing to a larger idea. It’s a very “Apple” way to take advantage of celebrity stopping power as it tells its own unique story.

It remains to be seen whether this is the entirety of the new iPhone effort, or there will be more spots to come. It could very well be that the reaction to these spots will determine that.

For those so disposed, it creates a fun guessing game. What other celebrities out there would have the coolness or quirkiness to best deliver the iPhone message?

Tags: , ,

  • Peter Christensen

    Not gonna happen but I’d love to see Noah Wylie!

  • shockme

    These are actually spots made by Verizon.

  • ksegall

    I don’t think so. I’ve no seen both commercials with an AT&T ending, and I’ve seen the Samuel L. Jackson ad with a Verizon ending as well. But the most convincing evidence is that Apple is showing both ads on Apple.com — without any carrier logo at the end. Hard to imagine Apple showing ads made by anyone but themselves.

  • Mr. T

    How about John Hodgman? He could play it as himself (like the Jackson/Deschanel ads) or to allude to his “I’m a PC” character.

  • I don’t really think it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s more like some used air with new new faces breathing it. Here’s our review and response. http://youtu.be/CFMG9mPBeSQ

  • matmik

    I really hate these celebrity ads. Apple should be above this ‘hey-see-this-celebrity-is-using-our-product-so-then-you-know-it’s-cool’ type of commercials.  I was really hoping AT&T had created these, and not Apple itself. 

    What do you think of this iPad 2 ad? ‘We Believe’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EblcnLuBM7A – It’s one of my all-time favorites from Apple.