A few weeks ago, Apple started running a new commercial for iPhone.
I thought it was a beautiful spot. It’s perfectly produced and acted, hits the right emotional notes and demonstrates how iPhone photography has become deeply ingrained in our culture.
With a second spot, this approach becomes a campaign. The most recent commercial (above) uses the identical structure, this time celebrating our love of music.
We see situations that capture the many ways we interact with music, and then the voiceover comes on to seal the deal: “Every day, more people enjoy their music on the iPhone than any other phone.”
It’s a good sequel to the first ad, which concluded “Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.”
While Samsung is out there showering us with ads celebrating the new features in the Galaxy S4, Apple isn’t talking about product features at all — other than the fact that iPhone takes pictures and plays music.
Apple’s spots live on a different plane. They say that human-focused technology has a special place in our lives. They say that Apple understands what makes people tick.
But beneath the emotion and the art of them, these spots contain a simple selling message. Almost literally, they say “More people use iPhones, so you should use one too.”
With ads so beautifully crafted, that strategy works.
However, if you’re a fan of Apple, its advertising or marketing in general, it’s interesting to observe that this strategy deviates significantly from past efforts.
Never in Apple’s history has it suggested that you should buy a product because “everyone’s doing it.” Apple has always demonstrated concrete benefits: simplicity, design, elegance and just plain lustworthiness.
It gets even more interesting when you consider that Apple’s decades-long pitch for Macs has been that you should not buy PCs simply because they’re ubiquitous. You should buy a Mac because it’s better.
How things change. Apple is now a world-leading mass marketer, and ubiquity is a positive selling point — even if in the past it was an indicator of mediocrity.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to theorize that Apple has gone this route simply because it can’t just sit there and watch. Samsung is saturating the market worldwide with S4 launch ads, and we’re not likely to see any new product excitement in the iPhone world for a number of months yet.
So in truth, this beautiful campaign is likely a beautiful placeholder.
It goes a long way to making people feel great about iPhone. But I suspect nothing will make us feel better than a shiny new iPhone model in our pockets.
(Slightly significant side note: official Apple style has always banned the use of “the” in front of “iPhone” (or any Apple product). That is, Apple says “You’ll like iPhone” and not “You’ll like the iPhone.” This style continues to be in use on apple.com. In both of these new iPhone spots, the voiceover refers to “the iPhone.” Meaning that these spots go where no article has gone before…)