Is Apple's new ad a fail?

Earlier this month, Apple launched a new ad campaign after WWDC, with the first spot called "Our Signature". Every time I see it, I'm annoyed. Annoyed by the pompousness that exudes from it.

In an era of communications where brands are moving to be "less about me" and "more about the customer", this ad feels like it fell out of something from a grayed creative's notebook from 1955. And, at that time, perhaps it would have made more sense. But now, it feels arrogant, off-brand and self-serving.

This article from Bloomberg states that it's part of a strategic advertising shift, "moving away from upbeat ads promoting product features toward ones that identify it as a reliable provider of products that combine quality, innovation and utility."

I'm not sure this is such a good move for the brand. Strategically, it's making them look like they are behind the times.

And, in a way that's true. If you click through to view the commercial at youtube, note that comments are disabled on the video. Which means the brand doesn't want to have customers comment on it.

On Twitter, the official account for the brand has only tweeted a max of 3 times in a month since it first in October 2011. In fact, there are only 5 tweets for all of 2012.

With their lack of participation in the world of social media and a new campaign that outright goes toward old school tendencies of talking about how awesome it is (read: navel-gazing), is their marketing on a downward swing?

I'd argue that their prior advertising campaigns did show it as a provider of products combining quality, innovation and utility: but it was done through the features in said products. Visually, the ads aren't so crushing, although it is a very different visual branding approach for them. The VO is what puts it in the "look how awesome we are" camp.

This is it. This is what matters. The experience of a product. How it makes someone feel. Will it make life better? Does it deserve to exist? We spend a lot of time on a few great things. Until every idea we touch enhances each life it touches. You may rarely look at it. But, you'll always feel it. This is our signature and it means everything.

This could have been written differently, as well as VO'ed differently to change the tone, bring back the gusto for life, for living, for creating and experiencing that was so much more prominent in Apple's prior campaigns.

Look at the 1984 ad. It never felt “better than you”. Yet, it too was an anthem ad.

This spot feels more like it’s coming from the talking heads on the screen of the 1984 spot. It’s no longer the rebel. No longer the choice of freedom. It’s become the follower.

Perhaps this is an accumulation of other events of the products themselves. When the latest Tunes 11 came out, so many people hated it that if you search google for "restore older version of iTunes" about 1,910,000 results come up. I know people who have looked for alternatives versus having to deal with it. One person in this apple discussion forum states it well: "The best I can tell, though, is that it seems as though there is a general notion of thinking the "least" of the user base. When I look at what they did, they took a fairly rich, fairly consistent, fairly functional interface and "Nano-ized" it to make it almost dumb and dumber. It is moves like this that lead me to believe they almost have a sort of contempt for their user base: we're one heck of a lot smarter than you are, and we know what's best."


AnonymousCoward's picture
kidsleepy's picture

Completely agree with this article. Apple has lost its way. However, this is due to their losing Steve Jobs, and not necessarily their falling behind the times.

Here's the thing about Apple: Their whole brand personality has been know-it-all from day one. Smug. And Condescending. They started as a challenger brand and stayed that way, but with some added cockiness thrown in. Remember: They gave us products we didn't know we needed and now can't live without, etc. They have never solicited participation from us, because that's not how they operate. Up until now, their average of being right has been a lot higher than most brands.

And yes, at this point it comes across as being condescending, but it's more the product's lack of revolutionary quality to blame than the conversation. Apple's conversation hasn't changed much. But with the dearth of new products, it comes across as being asshole-ish or defensive now.

Still, if you consider the brand consistency for decades, it's something to applaud. Whether you like it or not, they've stayed "on brand," for a very long time. Yes they can shift their tone a bit, and probably should. But if the brand who built itself upon giving us what it knows we need, suddenly asks us what we need and solicits our opinion, or god forbid, crowd sources ideas?

That wouldn't smack of modernization to me. It would smack more of desperation.

By the way, I also think we in advertising are caught up in the mindset that every consumer out there wants to participate. But that is also a gross assumption. Some people don't want to do the work for the brand; their level of participation stops with liking and sharing?

Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. The like and share crowd wants content. Good content. It's hard enough to get them to share that. Asking them to chase the brand down rabbit holes? I'm thinking that's going to have a shorter shelf life in the end.