Jul 14

Apple & Samsung: different takes on interim ads

In the last week, we’ve seen new commercials from both Apple and Samsung.

They’re for different product categories — laptop and phone — but they do have something in common. Both promote products that have been out for some time and have no new features to boast.

With MacBook Air, Apple is in a pretty comfortable place. The ultra-light notebook category isn’t nearly as combustible as the phone category, and MacBook Air isn’t particularly threatened. Sales are better than ever.

With the Galaxy S5, Samsung finds itself in a tougher spot. Decreasing sales have already let some air out of the Samsung balloon. Apple is on the rise again, and 95% of the buzz these days is about the looming iPhone 6.

With all that in mind, let’s look at how Apple and Samsung are stating their cases.

Stickers is a great example of a well-crafted, lovable ad that scores points despite a lack of any real news.

It’s fun to watch, and it exists to say only one thing: people love their MacBook Airs. There’s no attempt to say why — and no need to.

It captures the spirit of the MacBook Air owner much as the old Silhouette campaign captured the spirit of the iPod owner. It speaks the language of emotion, not technology.

Those who don’t understand marketing will of course jump on that fact. But the spot pulls you in and it reinforces what the Apple brand is all about: Apple makes products people fall in love with.

A critic could argue that sticker are at least as prevalent in the PC world. I always had the feeling that Mac people were more likely not to mess up the simple elegance of their chosen device.

And of course it’s a lot more entertaining to see an artfully crafted montage of interesting stickers than to stare at the one you affix to your computer.

But again, this is advertising, and not a documentary. The music is fun and the spot is entertaining, to the point where you see new things with repeated viewings. You get the idea that Apple owners love their laptops — and that’s the whole point.

It’s also fantastic news for all the fast-thinking entrepreneurs who will now flood the market with endless varieties of cool MacBook Air stickers.

If I were to criticize anything about it, it would be the last (and only) line: The notebook people love.

For the last couple of years, I’ve found myself wishing that Apple would regain its wit. Surely the same thought could have been expressed with a bit of cleverness.

Given the recent news about Apple creating more of its ads in-house, it would be interesting to know where this ad came from. If anyone has a clue, leave a comment.

Does Samsung worry about the launch of iPhone 6? This Screen Envy ad provides the answer.

It’s obvious to every man, woman and child that the biggest difference between a Galaxy and an iPhone is screen size.

It’s equally obvious that a sizable chunk of Galaxy owners chose their device largely because Apple didn’t give them the option.

Adding to this avalanche of obviousness is the fact that the new iPhone(s) will eliminate Samsung’s screen-size advantage.

So in this commercial, Samsung gets in its last jabs as screen-size king.

In effect, Samsung is saying “We’ve had a bigger screen all along, so why wait for a bigger iPhone?” Unfortunately for Samsung, the easy answer is: “I’ll wait because it’s only two months away.”

Few buyers will elect to “punish” Apple for being slow on this one. (And yes, Apple was at least a year too slow.) They will simply be thankful that Apple is finally making the iPhone they’ve wanted.

I empathize with Samsung, because it’s a next-to-impossible task to counter the buzz leading up to a radically new iPhone. Especially when no one really knows what other goodies the iPhone 6 may feature. It’s tough to do battle with people’s hopes and dreams.

In Screen Envy, Samsung’s argument is transparent, weak and unlikely to blunt Apple’s pending attack.

What we see is a company getting in its last zinger before there is little left to zing.

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    I see a lot of stickers on Windows notebooks: the Apple sticker you’ll find enclosed with some of your Apple product purchases. I’ve never seen any other sticker on a Windows machine, not a single one.

  • Hugo

    The Apple ad was created by TBWA (The TBWA account tweeted it out).
    If the reports were true, Apple’s competing the in house agency against TBWA and picking the best ad. Clearly TBWA won this round.

  • ViewRoyal

    Samsung’s ads seem to be accomplishing 2 things:

    1) They are providing free advertising for Apple products just by doing those comparisons.

    2) They insult users of Apple products, and insult their intelligence. Which is a counter-productive way to try and get new customers to buy your product.

    Apple’s ads never waste valuable ad time comparing iPhones to Samsung phones (or any other phone). And they don’t insult the intelligence of prospective customers.

    The major logic flaw in Samsung’s current ad, is that Samsung equates “larger” to “better”. Those two factors are completely different from each other.

    Samsung may be baffled by the fact that their “larger” phone has been losing sales, while sales of the “smaller” iPhone have been increasing steadily… but most other people understand why this has been happening.

  • dr.one

    MBA is attacked by Microsoft with their comparison to Surface 3. In fact Apple only reduced the price in May because Microsoft was coming it out with Surface 3.

    Intel is releasing Broadwell Core M processor which is lower in speed than MBA processor just for 2-in-1 laptops
    and is not releasing Broadwell of MBA until February of new year. So if Apple doesn’t have Core M variant of MBA, it will be attacked from the clone from the bottom as well.

    So this may be reason for advertisement at this moment. and that ipad growth has disappeared and
    more people may be choosing MBA instead especially college kids.

  • Sean

    I watched a Bono / Ive interview recently, and there was a big emphasis made that Jobs was pro RED, but definitely wouldn’t allow the () around the Apple logo in the stores. If he wouldn’t allow that, do you think Ken that he would have ran with this ad?

    I think it would haven been good to have the () Product RED as one the stickers.

  • Javier Diaz

    I really love the “stickers” ad, it’s one of their better ads in recent time. I enjoyed “Gigantic” as well. I personally don’t know whether this ad was created in-house or by TBWA, but, I am holding out hope it was done in-house.

  • DK Jones

    The ‘Stickers” ad relates directly to the long-form promo released last year that demonstrated the 1,000 “No’s” for every “Yes”. In that promo, connecting people was one of the reasons Apple does what it does, in the way that it does. That can mean connecting people to each other as well as to their Apple devices. Though I don’t have any stickers on my late 2011 13″ MacBook Pro, I have a strong connection to it and my other Apple products.

    Many of Apple’s ads, be they for iDevices or Macs have related to people connecting to each other via their Apple products and because of that thread, they are connected to their Apple products. Apple’s ads “connect” to people on an emotional level–by demonstrating what one can do with an Apple product to “connect” to others in affirming ways. Apple’s demonstrations of connections, the simplicity, ease of use and seamless integration across its product lines makes everything ‘”all good in my ‘hood”.