Sep 13

CNN plays the “Apple is failing” card again

Apparently, there isn’t much real news left in the world.

Why else would CNN present an ill-reasoned opinion piece as a front-page news story?

Oh, right. Because another “Apple is in serious trouble” story is always good for a few clicks.

With the scent of CNN’s recent Apple-doubting articles still in the air, this link was listed among the news headlines yesterday: Apple’s innovation problem is real.

Unfortunately, the only reality one can take from this article is that two writers can write a more vapid article than one. Continue reading →

Sep 13

Decoding Apple press invitations

Those sly foxes … hiding colors inside circles like that …

Sometimes the level of scrutiny aimed at Apple by analysts, experts, bloggers and journalists has to make you laugh.

In recent years, some of the bigger laughs have come from the “clues” that people read into the invitations Apple sends out for its announcement events. Every word, shape and color has meaning to someone. I’m pretty sure there are clues hidden in the punctuation as well.

An oldie: those darn clues are hidden all over the joint

It’s even funnier that just a few hours after today’s announcement, following months of speculation about multiple color iPhones, the observers haven’t seen fit to call out the sledgehammer-like clues confirming the rumor — namely, multiple color circles and the word “bright.”

Could it be that it’s all just too obvious to mention? Perhaps. But that’s never stopped anyone before. Continue reading →

Jul 13

CNN’s Apple sensationalism

Actually, CNN’s objectivity appears to be headed in the wrong direction

Sensationalism is hardly anything new in the news biz. Death, destruction and scandal have always been good draws.

But there’s a big difference between reporting about sensational things and misrepresenting facts for the purpose of sensationalizing.

At the very least, you’d think that when it comes to business news, a major news organization would go out of its way to be objective. Yet CNN seems unable to resist jumping on the “Apple is doomed” bandwagon.

Recently, it featured a poorly-written Apple-bashing Mashable article on its front page along with the real news.

Last week it descended even further. Continue reading →

Jul 13

Global branding: Samsung vs. Apple

Thanks to YouTube, we’re often treated to commercials from around the world.

Some are really fun to watch. Others, like this one from Samsung Iceland, are truly inexplicable.

Despite its many flaws, this spot does an excellent job of highlighting a philosophical difference between Samsung and Apple. (In case you needed another.)

What’s the best way for a company to build its brand across so many different countries and cultures? Centralize advertising at corporate HQ? Or empower local agencies to “do their thing”?

Local agencies leap at any opportunity to show off their creativity. It’s far more fulfilling than executing ideas born elsewhere. Unfortunately, agencies who are given more freedom can end up diluting or damaging the brand — as evidenced by Exhibit A above. Continue reading →

Jul 13

Behind the “Apple ads flop” story

Last week, a story spread through the Applesphere that Apple’s new brand commercial, Our Signature, is a flop.

This, according to Ace Metrix, which is in the business of researching such things for its clients. (See Bloomberg Businessweek story here).

On the heels of this story came another, in which it was revealed that Ace Metrix has on its client roster a company called … Samsung.

Naturally, that revelation sparked some good conspiracy theories. Like this one: Maybe Ace Metrix is saying that the ad is bad because in fact it’s really good. But since Samsung is pulling the strings, they’re saying it’s bad so Apple might believe the numbers and take it off the air. Score another point for Samsung.

Hold on there, fellas. Continue reading →

Jun 13

Schiller’s zinger: Apple’s rallying cry

“Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.”

Phil Schiller’s one-liner in yesterday’s WWDC keynote just may be one of the best in Apple history.

People may forget what drives Apple, but Apple does not. Back in the dark days, before Steve Jobs returned, the company really had become mediocre.

The success of iMac proved that Apple wasn’t dead yet. From that point on, a series of successes put Apple into the black and removed all the question marks surrounding its viability.

The kinds of products that were fueling Apple’s rise — iMac, iBook, AirPort, etc. — made one thing abundantly clear. Apple would continue to grow as long as it continued to innovate.

Schiller’s zinger was the 2013 affirmation of this belief. It was spirited and confident. Continue reading →

Jun 13

iPhone ads: Apple plays the ubiquity card

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. Continue reading →

May 13

Apple demos the power of creativity

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.

Fair enough.

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 … Continue reading →

May 13

The iPod-ization of iPhone

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. Continue reading →

May 13

Microsoft & Nokia groom their comedy act

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. Continue reading →