Posts Tagged: apple advertising

Aug 14

The Apple rainbow logo rides again

In case you missed it — a frame from the end of the “Stickers” ad


I have to say, I’m a bit surprised.

Given all the sites that regularly dissect Apple’s every move — major, minor, real or imagined — an earthquake in the Apple world has gone virtually unnoticed.

That ancient rainbow logo, last seen in mainstream advertising at least 13 years ago, has magically reappeared for yet another moment in the sun.

Well, maybe it’s more of a moment in the shade, as it does go by rather quickly. In fact, my informal unscientific poll shows that most ordinary viewers didn’t even notice it.

It comes at the end of the Stickers commercial, when the sign-off logo flickers between the contemporary black logo and the old rainbow logo.

Of course I am greatly exaggerating the importance of this unexpected-but-sweet little touch. But if you’re a student of Apple advertising, or just a casual fan, it’s a cool thing to note.

Continue reading →

Jun 14

Apple’s marketing rethink: not exactly a surprise

We all know that things are different in the post-Steve Apple.

However, there’s something about the current move to build an in-house marketing agency that’s really, really different.

Unlike previous changes, this one isn’t driven by Tim Cook.

It comes from a new place, deeper inside the company — from those who long played a part in Steve Jobs’ marketing machine.

The industry and the press seem to be surprised by this development. To many others, it’s a wonder it didn’t happen sooner.

A little background to start with…


Though Steve encouraged debate, his dictator side made it clear that some things were not debatable. One of those things was the way Apple handled its marketing.

He set up two distinct areas of responsibility. Continue reading →

Apr 14

Apple’s little advertising crisis

Phil – and his email – get their day in court

Corporate legal dramas often serve as a reminder to one of the new cardinal rules of business:

Watch what you say in email.

I suspect there are a few people at Apple and its ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day who wish they could take their messages back, now that Samsung’s lawyers have introduced them as evidence.

One email from Phil Schiller to Tim Cook says that Apple “may need to start a search for a new agency … we are not getting what we need from [Chiat] and haven’t been for a while.”

Tim’s reply: “If we need to do this, we should get going.”


This all happened in 2013, so who knows if it’s blown over by now. But given Steve Jobs’ long-running relationship with Chiat, this potentially represents a huge break from the past.

A little perspective is in order. Continue reading →

Aug 12

Apple ads: a disturbance in the force

“Everyone’s a critic,” goes the old expression. Apple certainly found that out when they chose to debut their new Mac ads on the Olympics.

Thousands of journalists, bloggers and commenters couldn’t resist the lure. That’s because whether you liked the ads or not, they were clearly a departure for Apple.

Personally, I got a ton of comments and emails on this topic. Plus, I happened to be on the road last week and got an earful in real-time — and I wasn’t the guy who kept bringing it up.

In San Francisco, I met with Forbes technology blogger Connie Guglielmo. (She has some great coverage of the Apple-Samsung trial, by the way.) What made her head spin was the fact that Apple has been telling people for decades that its products are easier to use than those of its competitors, and here they are saying that ordinary people need help. Continue reading →

May 11

Apple ads vs. the fleeting state of cool

You are so damn fickle.

Sure, you love your Apple ads today. (Like this one for iPad 2.) But history shows you’ll not only lose interest in the near future — you’ll be embarrassed that you ever liked them in the first place.

That’s just the nature of the beast in the ad world. What rates so high on the Cool-o-Meter today looks dated within in a few years, and gets unwatchable a short time after.

And it’s not just you. The whole world grows weary of these things. It’s as if the taste and values of millions evolve in unison.

Great casting becomes miscasting. Great acting turns into amateur hour. Ads shot by acclaimed directors, adored by audiences the world over, become faint memories.

Sadly, there is no fountain of youth for advertising. Most ads wear out their welcome about as fast as you can say “Newton.”

The problem, of course, is that everything on this earth starts getting old the moment it’s born. (Except you, of course.) Every new thing — from music to movies, from books to neat little devices — gets more sophisticated. It helps raise the collective sophistication of all of us.

We gain a new appreciation for the new and a new disdain for the old.

What brought on this little outburst? To be honest, I was just looking through my “favorite ad” archives and being amazed that I ever thought some of them even remotely good. And it wasn’t just me, it was you too. Unbelievably, many of them have slipped from super-cool to outright embarrassing.

At least we don’t have to go on public record about what ads we think are cool. Steve Jobs does. Every time he approves an ad from Apple (and he does approve every single one), he’s saying “here’s one I really like.”

Here’s one he really liked some 30 years ago for the Apple II. I, for one, am very glad he grew up.

Apr 11

Finally! A different kind of iPad ad

Houston, we have liftoff. After more than three years of generally sticking to a formula for iPhone, iPod and iPad ads, Apple has given us a little surprise.

This new iPad 2 ad, which debuted on Saturday, is from a different world. Gone is the series of apps displayed on a device held by an inhumanly perfect hand.

Shot against black, this ad feels more elegant, more important. That’s because it’s not just a commercial for iPad 2 — it’s a brand ad wrapped in product ad.

Cleverly, it still manages to communicate a wide range of apps — but it does so only in service of the brand message. This ad is about how Apple’s unique philosophy leads to products that are “even more delightful” and yes, “magical.” (I’ll save the issue of Apple’s adjective addiction for another time.)

Personally, I’d been disappointed that Apple had allowed itself to wander into formula territory in the first place. I was genuinely surprised when the launch of iPad — a fresh, world-changing technology — was advertised in the style of ads that had been running for two years before.

To be fair, many marketing experts would totally support what Apple has done. If you’re revolutionizing the world, you’re the center of attention and you’re selling products faster than you can make them, why on earth would you ever change the formula?

My best answer: “Because it’s a formula.”

Apple doesn’t do formulas. It’s in Apple’s blood to relentlessly make things better, even when they’re pretty amazing already. This is what they do with their products (like killing iPod mini at the height of its popularity), and this is historically what they’ve done with their advertising.

So, in my opinion, this extended period of sameness on behalf of the world’s most revolutionary products was an aberration. Now, at long last, Apple is taking us someplace we haven’t been before.

The big question is: how do we like the new ad?

Judging by the comments I’ve seen on blogs so far, it’s safe to say this ad is going to be a big hit with the Apple crowd. That alone would make it a smart investment for Apple. It gives their customers a flag to rally behind, and a good argument to carry forth into the world.

I buy the message of this commercial 100%. Apple products are absolutely different from competitors’ products — and they are different precisely for the reasons described in the ad. That this can be conveyed in just 30 seconds is a good example of Apple’s ability to distill a message into its simplest, most understandable form.

Not to spoil the euphoria, but I feel duty-bound to point out that this ad is not without a downside. While the message may resonate with Apple customers, it is by no means a slam-dunk with the rest of the world.

This is the type of message that is ordinarily delivered by Steve Jobs personally, at such events as the iPad launch. It’s perfectly natural for Steve to get on stage and say things like, “We believe…”

It’s a very different thing when a TV commercial interrupts what we really want to be watching and starts telling us, “We believe…” Some will take that as pretentious and condescending.

While the believers cheer the message that “magic” involves more than tech specs, those aware of competitors touting superior specs might roll their eyes and take it as Apple being defensive. “Oh, so that’s why you put crappy cameras in iPad 2. That’s part of the magic?”

But no commercial can please everyone, and Apple isn’t trying to convince the die-hard haters. They’re simply trying to get their message out to the vast number of potential iPad buyers, many of whom do not know Apple particularly well.

Personally, I love the fact that Apple is taking a risk by doing something unusual. By doing so, they reinforce the fact that they’re not like the other guys. They honestly believe this message, and they’re willing to spend major money to broadcast it. (And I can guarantee that they did not test this message with 20 focus groups first.)

Once the euphoria fades, though, it does make you wonder: what next?

If this is the “stake in the ground” commercial, where does the advertising go from here? Or is this just a breather, designed to take advantage of iPad’s “moment,” and then we go right back to what we had before?

Surely iPad deserves something better than a series of app shots on the screen. If iPod had the energetic silhouette campaign, and Macs had the endlessly entertaining Mac vs. PC campaign, what does iPad get? Or does Apple scrap tradition and create a “mobility” campaign that encompasses all of its i-products?

Apple and its agency TBWA\Chiat\Day have amazing creative resources, literally around the world. And most creative people would kill for the opportunity to work on such a project.

So I’m going to cross my fingers that the best is yet to come. I hope we can soon return to the days when morning conversations often started with, “Hey, did you see that Apple commercial last night?”