A wise man in advertising once said that 90% of the world’s ads failed before the creative team even got the assignment. Not enough time was spent first honing the strategy.
However, one can’t diminish the importance of the creative execution. Because there are a hundred ways to bring a strategy to life, and it takes talent and smarts to do this well.
With its newest commercial for iPhone, Apple (or, I should say, agency TBWA\Chiat\Day) provides a wonderful demonstration of the power of creativity — the ability to take a simple idea and turn it into a stunner.
Some say this might be the best iPhone ad ever made.
What this commercial does so well is capture the human side of technology. It’s a reflection of daily life, and it’s easy to see ourselves in it. The ad shows us how essential our phones have become, enabling us to capture the people, places and images we don’t want to forget.
I say this is a great example of the power of creativity because …
Well, you feel pretty great about iPhone when the spot ends — even though it provides no distinguishing reason to buy one.
The spot is based on emotion rather than any features that set iPhone apart from its competition. Just about every phone on earth has a built-in camera these days, many of which offer quality similar to iPhone’s.
The voiceover wraps it all up by saying: “Every day, more photos are taken with an iPhone than any other camera.” By comparing to individual competing models, Apple gracefully eludes the reality that there are a ton more Android phones out there, taking a ton more photos.
I don’t say these things to diminish the commercial. I’m a huge fan of it. I’m simply pointing out the power of great creative. Without relying on a single technology-based advantage, Apple successfully creates a commercial that wins your heart.
When we talk about Apple being “the most human technology company,” this is exactly what we mean. Taking the emotional route, and doing it with class and quality, can be at least as effective as screaming about new features.
Also, it’s important to note: great creative work often looks easy — when in fact it is anything but. It’s difficult to get everyone to sign off on an ad that’s purely emotional. It’s super-hard to come up with so many realistic scenarios with believable actors, and then edit them together to make sense. The use of repeated flashes in this spot is particularly artful.
And this is a 60-second commercial. Most companies aren’t willing to invest in longer spots when they can get “more for their money” with a 30-second spot. They’re willing to give up the greater emotional impact to get the spot on air more often. When you value creativity, you’re willing to spend more to do it right.
Steve Jobs didn’t believe in cutting corners when it came to creative work. To me, this spot is reassuring proof that his values are alive and well at Apple.
As competing devices mature, and their differences become less obvious to the non-experts, a company’s ability to create provocative and memorable advertising becomes all the more important.
In this measure, Apple has an advantage. And it’s an advantage that’s not so easy to copy.