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 … More ▸
It happened to iPod — time for iPhone to get the family treatment?
For months, we’ve heard that Apple isn’t the innovator it used to be.
iPhone has fallen behind. Samsung is now the real innovator. iPhone 5S is an also-ran before it’s even launched.
Of course, Apple’s “problems” are more perception than reality. But perceptions do fuel momentum, and the negative buzz about Apple has been (a) tarnishing the brand and (b) driving the stock price lower. So what’s Apple to do? Will we really have to wait until 2014 to see a major upgrade to iPhone?
We can’t predict the future. However, we all know the past — and you’ll find some important clues there.
Back when the very first iPhone was about to launch, it was assumed by many inside Apple that iPhone would follow the path of iPod before it. The first year or two would be devoted to evolving and perfecting the device — and then the iPhone line would be expanded to address various types of customers.
iPod’s biggest years came after it had expanded into a family of products. More ▸
[Sorry, but it seems that jcpenney has destroyed the evidence. The ad discussed here has been yanked from YouTube. Fortunately, they can't censor the news story containing the ad — so I'm publishing that here instead.]
Whether you love or hate jcpenney, whether you love or hate Ron Johnson, this commercial gives us a good, juicy topic.
jcpenney is in a sorry state. Literally. It is now running this public apology, admitting mistakes and begging its old customers to come back.
This ad definitely defies conventional wisdom. To many, it feels too much like an oil company apologizing for spilling a few million gallons of gunk into the environment.
Most marketers in jcp’s position would be sensitive to sounding desperate and take a more positive approach. There are many bold and happy ways to send out a similar message of change.
So this move by jcpenney is either unexpectedly brilliant or astonishingly dumb. I think this is open to debate, and would love to hear your opinions.
Is jcpenney in such sad shape, on the edge of extinction, that it must do something extreme? Or have its marketing skills crumbled under the pressure and sunk to an incredible new low? More ▸
Let’s give credit where credit is due. An ad associated with Microsoft is making people laugh.
Not that this hasn’t happened before. The difference is, this time viewers are laughing with Microsoft — not at it.
It’s remarkable, because for many years Microsoft has been the older guy at the party trying to prove he’s cool or funny. Mostly, it’s turned out awkward (the Gates/Seinfeld buddy series), lame (“I’m a PC”) and/or befuddling (Surface dancing ads).
Given this track record, I’m assuming that the creative spark in this ad originated with Nokia. (Although Nokia hasn’t exactly behaved like a creative powerhouse in the past either.) But the branding here is heavily Microsoft, which has obviously opened its wallet to put the concept of “Windows Phone” front and center. More ▸
Ron Johnson’s exit at jcpenney this week wasn’t exactly huge news to those who’d been watching the company fall off a cliff in 2012. Boards tend to notice when the losses start approaching the one-billion-dollar mark.
Now we get a deluge of analyses from retail experts and amateurs alike. I would only remind you of one basic rule of life:
Don’t believe everything you read.
I’ve been surprised at how many articles either misunderstand the retail industry or conveniently misplace the facts about the challenges facing jcp.
So what the heck, I’ll throw in my two cents as well. I didn’t work for jcp, but as some of you know, I was involved in the jcp advertising that ran on the Oscars this year and last.
To better appreciate how and why Ron failed, you have to go back to the beginning.
Ron became CEO of jcp after a long period of courtship. He was being recruited to be on the board by investor and board member William Ackman. Ron’s great successes in retail (Target, Apple) and fresh point of view were seen as a breath of fresh air. And boy, did jcp ever need that. More ▸
When Apple introduced the iPad 3 as “the new iPad” — dropping its number altogether — it gave Apple watchers something new to ponder.
Would the coming iPhone 5 simply be “the new iPhone”? Would Apple’s naming convention finally be applied equally across all product lines?
The answer, we soon discovered, was “no.” The new iPhone stubbornly held onto its number — even though iPod, iPad, iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were living in a world where numbers had become excess baggage.
There was good reason, of course.
iPhone is sold differently. Since two previous models are still available when a new model is launched, the number is needed to distinguish one from the other. Consider it a necessary evil.
But once you accept that iPhone models can’t live without a model identifier, the question becomes: what should that identifier be? More ▸
Wow, things really do happen faster in the world of Samsung.
Apple enjoyed a good 15 years of ever-increasing buzz before it finally took a hit. Samsung’s buzz has suffered a wound in just a fraction of that time.
What a difference a launch can make.
Samsung was on a tremendous winning streak over the last year or so. It way outspent Apple on marketing, effectively hitting the company while it was down. It had a monster hit with the Galaxy S III. It was hailed by many as “the new leader in innovation.” And it was all set to be anointed the king of smartphones with an epic unveiling of the Galaxy S4 at Radio City Music Hall last week.
But the next day, there wasn’t a lot of anointing going on. In fact, Samsung was taking hits on several levels. More ▸
Whatever happened to the good old days, when iPad was the only choice in town?
Unfortunately for Apple, those days are now long gone. There’s no resting on past glories. For those comparing tablets today, it hardly matters who invented what. What’s important is what they see today — and it starts with the ads.
Let’s see how the ad competition is shaping up.
Apple has always spawned passionate reactions to its advertising, pro and con. But these days, it seems that the natives are restless. More ▸
It’s been 15 months since Ron Johnson left Apple to become CEO at jcpenney.
If you go by the numbers, things aren’t going all that well. If you go by the vision, it’s a different story entirely.
During the Oscars, jcpenney ran six commercials that lay the framework for the transformation in progress.
(At this point, I must bare all and confess that I was part of the creative team for this work. But don’t let that stop you from blasting away at me if you disagree.)
The “Anthem” commercial above is a 90-second letter to America. Basically, it says that jcpenney knows who you are and what makes you tick, and is devoted to helping make your life a bit better — as it has been for over a hundred years.
This is jcp’s “stake in the ground,” much as Think different was Apple’s stake in the ground when it began its transformation. More ▸
No one denies that Apple has been more successful than any other technology company on earth.
How that happened shouldn’t be a matter of debate, but we can always count on human nature to muddy the waters. Some Apple detractors put forth the theory that it’s not the technology; it’s all in the marketing.
Reasonably intelligent people can’t possibly believe that. However, there is one bit of truth to it. That is, Apple has always been amazingly good at marketing. It’s been the gold standard in marketing as long as most of us can remember.
No matter what brand I’m working with, technology or otherwise, it’s astounding how many times I hear marketing people cite the Apple example to make a point. Apple’s advertising history is as famous as its products.
Who the heck do I think I am? I’m a creative director who’s had more than a few adventures in technology marketing, including branding, product naming and strategy. I have a long history with Apple and NeXT — where I took a blood oath to uphold the principles of simplicity.