Dec 16

The case of the runaway headline

distortion2I guess I should be used to it by now.

But hell, it really is amazing how some news organizations twist people’s words to maximize the clicks.

The latest example is a story now running on CNBC.

Two days ago, I posted an article here about Apple’s recent advertising, in which I praised the Bulbs spot as “one of the greatest ads in Apple history.”

But when CNBC wrote their article about my post, they gave it the headline:

Apple’s ‘Think Different’ ad creator says its new commercial uses ‘oldest trick in advertising book’

Yikes. Sounds like a bitter man slamming Apple — when in fact I’m happy guy dripping with admiration. Really.

I did describe Apple’s montage technique as “the oldest trick in the advertising book.” However, I made it clear that this is part of the ad’s genius. It employs a familiar technique to create something fresh and exciting — what I believe to be one of Apple’s all-time best.

To its credit, CNBC’s article includes my full explanation. To its discredit, my full explanation lives under that horribly misleading headline.

(Side note: I have no idea why they bill me as “Apple’s ‘Think Different’ ad creator.” I never describe myself that way. As the agency’s creative director on Apple, I was the co-writer on the Think different launch ad, and part of the talented team that brought it to life—most of whom are likely horrified by my runaway ego. Thank you, CNBC.)

This isn’t “fake news.” At least in the case of fake news, the story is manufactured from thin air and a reasonably perceptive person should sense that.

No, this is distorted news, which is an entirely different animal. It looks and feels like real news, and it rarely signals caution.

Distorted news isn’t trying to change our core beliefs, it’s just trying to make a buck. More clicks = higher ad revenue.

It comes down to basic human behavior, and no amount of begging or pleading (or blogging) can change it.

The good news is, human behavior will change, I guarantee. There’s that little thing called evolution. Just give it about 50,000 years.


  • I have a small restaurant client. One of the local paper‘s restaurant critics visited their establishment. The day the review came out, the printed version of the newspaper gave it a complimentary headline. The online version **of the same article**, though, used a very purposefully degrading headline. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

  • Ellz

    I just read the article via Yahoo!
    I decided to come to your blog to read your post in it’s entirety and my or my, talk about twisting a man’s words. I believe the sad part about this “evil doing” is that you don’t really have control of what they write and how they write it. Sad indeed.

  • Galaxy_Surfer_007

    You were mistreated, but your blog here has wonderfully exposed their shenanigans! It reveals to the world their under-handed approach!


    Now, as to that ad… In my book, it’s one of their worst ever! It’s frenetic, destructive, irritating, and the light bulbs popping undermines its very message.

    Indeed, given the burning, exploding Samsung phones, it’s exactly the type of imagery they should not want associated with the new MacBook Pro. Worse, in its rapid fire run through of truly creative, world-changing breakthroughs, the Touch Bar hardly measures up. Too smugly self-centered.

    Now, the Think Different series, the I’m a Mac, the I saved Christmas, the “stoned” actress ones, and the classic 1984 ad were in a league of their own!

  • isitjustme

    Just wondering are you one of the buyers of the latest MacBook Pro?

  • Gab

    Took the words out of my mouth. Anything for a click. The bulbs ads is very good, but is that a good headline? That’s not going to get clicks.

  • Arif Ahnan

    I believe the sad part about this “evil doing” is that you don’t really have control of what they write and how they write it.

    7 Pengobatan Sipilis Yang Paling Ampuh

  • paijo narjoko

    Obat Kencing Nanah Pada Apotik
    Obat Kencing Nanah Pada Apotik

  • Softserialkey

    The article you provided very useful, Hopefully I get to read your other articles
    Teamviewer License Key