June 19, 2013

Apple Has Nothing To Say


Almost 2 years ago, when Steve Jobs stepped down as ceo of Apple, I wrote... 
Advertising will be an early indicator of whether people without vision and taste are moving in at Apple.
One of the things I said to look out for was "Creeping Brandism"...
Creeping Brandism: The Apple brand was built bottom-up. That is, the products defined the brand. Virtually every Apple ad was about a product, not  the brand (okay, there was "Think Different" but that didn't last.) Keep an eye out for the erosion of this discipline.
Well, guess what? After almost 2 years of ineffectual advertising, Apple has thrown in the towel and resorted to all-out brand babble. Here is their latest effort.

video

Apple has been taking a beating from Samsung who have come at them aggressively. Their response? Mealy-mouth "branding" baloney.

Apple was once the rebellious, ballsy badboys of the tech industry. They knew how to build a brand -- you built it with persuasive advertising about excellent products. They have given up that ground and now sound like pompous, overfed CMOs. Steve must be spinning.

Industry insiders have reported that the agency is very unhappy with the process. Working for Jobs was never a picnic, but at least the end product always had some bite. This stuff is mush.

At the time I wrote,
The product pipeline will take years to screw up. But the ad pipeline can be screwed up in no time.
After "Siri" and "The Genius" campaigns and this, the "ad pipeline" is now officially screwed up.

Apple has two problems. First is that they have nothing to talk about. They haven't produced anything of major interest to consumers in a long time.

Second, they have lost their voice. They no longer know who they are. And neither do we.



70 comments:

Brian said...

I actually thought this was very, very Apple. And aimed more at a internal audience than anything else.

DenTarthurdent said...

You're right Bob - this is abysmal. Apart from the obvious point that Jonathan Ives lives and works in the UK (so... not designed in California, then), who cares? Why would I care about anything in that ad when Apple have always understood that they are in a product-driven marketplace?

If you still have any Apple shares, sell them now. Sell, sell, sell (because Apple aren't anymore).


Oh, and btw I was an early adopter of OSX, used to love the iPhone, still love the iPad and still, desperately, want Apple to be as good as they should be. So, I'm not writing as an Apple hater, just a badly hurt Apple lover who still wants things to work out between us but is losing hope.

Tim Parry said...

This ad is just plain depressing! It feels more like an obituary than it does brandism.

Jim said...

Could be for anyone these days, could say 'Drink Coke' at the end or shop at 'John Lewis' etc.

Hayes said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VpZmIiIXuZ0

vouchey said...

I disagree mightily. This spot is about two things: Our products become so integral to lives that they become practically invisible; and our company is tightly focused on product use, not lifestyle or fashion. This is so contrary to what so many other companies/brands are producing. That in itself is the effectiveness of the message.

sbisking said...

I don't necessarily care for the ad, but I'll stay long on AAPL.

TCWriter said...

Until the final sequence, it could have been an ad for tampons.

Guest said...

It's sad, really. Samsung and now Microsoft are killing Apple with great commercials about what their products do better than the current Apple products. Specified differentiation. That's good advertising. The first commenter said it best when he said this ad looks more like an obituary.

Georgie Casey said...

cheers, the quality of the ad the posted is terrible

Tony said...

Agree. Sure don´t make me feel like buying an Apple product (or proud of owning an IMac or Airmac (which I do). None of the excitement and buzz of the previous product benefit led ads for Iphone or Ipad.

Matt Sharper said...

internal audience wtf is that

Matt Sharper said...

no.

tomob said...

I think you nailed it Tim - that is an Obit for Apple!

Rory said...

Well consider: have you seen this ad on TV at all? No. It's not part of their general advertising campaign. It's something they released online, for people who care about this sort of thing, who'll sit and willingly watch something like this after hearing Apple have a new ad out.

paulbenjou said...

For the first time, Bob, I disagree. The spot made me feel good and made me feel good about the Apple brand. There is something good to be said about that kind of response.

Shanghai61 said...

It looks like Apple just found 'Chiat Point', that location in time an space where you've got so big you turn to shit.

Rich Becker said...

That commercial makes me weep, not because it the feel good fluff works, but because it's the end of an era. They will kill Apple if they continue down that road. The right road focuses on innovation, the core of what Apple is ... or maybe ... used to be.

A Name said...

I saw it on TV in the UK last night.


It is general advertising, not "internal".

CSH said...

What's become invisible is the difference between Apple's advertising and their competitors'. Boooooooooorrrrrring.

paulbenjou said...

Most people aspire to own Apple products and this simply reinforces the underlying strength of the brand.
For those that do own Apple, it's a feel good moment .... again, supporting the brand.
This is a home run campaign that is crystallizing their position in the marketplace.

fuckouttaheah said...

see. shit like that jony lives in the uk is wrong. he shows up at work every day.

DenTarthurdent said...

Yeah; you're right. The fact that he lives in SF really makes me want to buy Apple again. Guess Dieter Rams was Californian, too...

Ilya Platonov said...

All things are passing, it's sad but true...

fuckouttaheah said...

no. don't try to spin it in your own bullshit way. i have a friend that works there as a prototype builder. sees him every day. stick to the topic.

DenTarthurdent said...

I thought the topic was whether or not the ad makes me want to
buy an Apple. Yeah; you were right - their British designer lives and
works in California. I was wrong. Why does where he works make me want to buy an
Apple? Why is "designed in California" supposed to make me feel good
about the product? In any multinational, design is, effectively,
global; it has to be to meet the demands of global markets. In what way
is Californian design supposedly superior? What is the design history
of California that I'm supposed to relate to in this ad? I just don't
get it. Sorry.

fuckouttaheah said...

"Apart from the obvious point that Jonathan Ives lives and works in the UK (so... not designed in California, then), who cares?"


you typed it, i corrected it. now i can't tell you what compelled you to write it, but the designed in ca thing surely must have resonated w/you enough to mention it.



as far as design goes w/meeting the global market demands and such, you really must not understand the influence region plays in creation. and no good design has ever been the product of "global demands."


there's a certain point where you have to have your own vision and get people on board your vision. jony's contribution to apple speaks for itself.

DenTarthurdent said...

I mentioned the designed in CA thing because it's what Apple are leading with in their UK adverts. It just doesn't have any focussed meaning in this market.


Sure; just about every design from the first iMac onwards has been superb (maybe, even from the Newton) but do I look at them and think "that's Californian"? I can't because I don't know what "Californian" design is. That's where this campaign falls down for me. It may work as a campaign in America but, globally, it has no meaning and it is being rolled out globally.


When I look at the Sony Experia Z or the latest Nokias, I think of them as good pieces of design (leaving aside Nokia's disastrous choice of OS), not a Japanese and a Finnish design. They are just good on their own merits - to take 2 examples (by no means the only reasons I admire the designs) I like the Sony because it's waterproof and I'm the sort of idiot who'll wash jeans with the phone in the pocket and I like the Nokia because you can drop it (and I'm the sort of idiot... etc.) and the glass doesn't smash (usually). I'm not suggesting that smashed glass is exclusive to the iPhone by the way.



I do buy the region thing with a BMW or Mercedes, sure, but then German design has become a sort of badge (or brand) in itself, not least because of Dieter Rams work at Braun, as followed by Ive. Maybe Californian design carries that kudos in America, it just doesn't have enough meaning here.

foljs said...

They must do so with a different meaning of the word "killing" that "doing better financially".

Toley said...

This seems more like a piece to quote yourself.

The smartphone market is hitting its limits and Samsung is the one who has over invested, while Apple leans more towards pragmatic growth.

foljs said...

Yes, because Apple wrote the ad, right?


And Apple hasn't had vague BS ads before, I mean "Think Different" focused on the product right?


As did 1984...


NOT.

Jessica Darko said...

Apple has something to say, it's intelligent, even. You don't. You call it "brand mush" and that's about it. You don't give any reasoning, you just have an (apparently completely ill informed) opinion and you confuse it for reality. This says everything about you and nothing about Apple.

You are seemingly ignorant of the context of the ad-- which is one where companies like samsung have spent billions of dollars to confuse people and make them think that samsung is the maker of iphones. Quite deliberately they have done this.

This ad was about the product, actually. This was, in fact, a feature based ad. It was entirely about the feature you can get from nobody else in the industry-- Apple products are designed, they're not ripoffs.



That you're unaware of this tells me you have no understanding what a brand really is.

Jessica Darko said...

I think it's funny how people who bash apple always claim to be owners of apple products.


But it's also funny how they are so stupid they can't even get the names of the products right.


You own one but you think it's called an "airmac"? Really?


Yeah, right!

Jessica Darko said...

Going out of business (in the minds of idiots) since 1985!

Jessica Darko said...

Just keep telling yourself that.

Jessica Darko said...

This is an ad talking about *why* apple is uniquely innovative in the industry. IF you think it's left apple, you're not paying attention.

Jessica Darko said...

I've emmigrated to California over a decade ago. Apple makes %90 of the profits in the mobile industry, so we should sell?


I love how idiots who bash apple with this kind of nonsense think that they can just say "I'm not an apple hater" and people will believe it.


IF you want to be taken seriously, don't post idiocy.

Jessica Darko said...

You're just a mindless Apple basher. You know nobody is matching apple in design, but you think that "design" is so mushy you can just assert they are.


Probably because you haven't the first fucking clue what design is.

Jessica Darko said...

Yeah, this is the kind of thing samsung would do! -- about the most idiotic thing you could possibly say.

Jessica Darko said...

People like you called us sheep back when Apple was a small part of the market.... you are just going to call us sheep because you're too stupid to use the best tools for the job.

Jessica Darko said...

I have to point out that you're an idiot. You are too stupid to weigh in on your opinion about Apple because you don't understand why Apple is successful and how apple is more successful now than the "golden age" that you look back fondly on. OF course because of dunning kruger you, who have amounted to nothing, will never understand why you have amounted to nothing while Apple has been so successful at doing the "wrong thing" in your eyes.


This is what makes you an idiot. (And of course being an idiot you won't comprehend this argument.)

Evelyn Lima said...

Totally agree with you. I was just about to write the same.

It is about their PRODUCTS and how it affects almost every part of our lives. And that it is boundless...

beedogs said...

Way to show up and be an insulting, argumentative troll.


Are all Apple fanatics like this?

beedogs said...

You seem angry. Did you buy AAPL at $705?

Michael said...

I don't think Jobs is going to be able to ride to the rescue this time.

Tonio Loewald said...

Douchy maybe but dead on. What is an airmac? Does anyone who owns a Macbook Air (say) call it an "airmac"?

Alexander Zub said...

Here's the "airmac": http://www.airmac.com/

James Aung said...

Umm, Not all the advertisements "push" viewers to buy products. I believe this ad is about reinforcing the brand as Paul said. This ad got same tone as Geniuses campaign, which made me think about the legacy that Apple used to have and what it meant to own an Apple product.

plugger lockett said...

Most people aspire to own Apple products? What?!?

Florian Bösch said...

Apple hasn't just produced nothing novel (their hiterto business model) in a long time. They've also fundamentally failed to update and keep abreast of the competition with their core products. Take iOS for example. It still doesn't do WebGL. Everybody else does WebGL (Android, WinRT, IE, Chrome, Firefox etc.).


It's just one example, but there are numerous like it. They fundamentally don't seem to want to compete and letting their technology fall by the wayside. Those who sow obsolescence reap oblivion.

Samuel Hart said...

If nobody is matching apple in design, why is their latest update (their new "flat" UI) an almost exact copy of Android, which has had that look for nearly a year now?

Samuel Hart said...

Yes.

DenTarthurdent said...

Did I assert that? Or did I just ask "what makes the designs Californian?" What is Californian design? The strapline of the ad is "Designed in California". I'm simply asking what that is supposed to make me think.


And, no; I'm not an Apple basher; far from it. OSX changed my life. Every smartphone owes everything to the first iPhone interface, the first true implementation of POSIX protocols, the first interface to any computing device that was truly a joy to use.


I just don't know where they're going with this ad or what it's supposed to make me think. It might work in CA but it doesn'f for a global audience.

DenTarthurdent said...

Perhaps you should look outside CA. Apple is amazing at monetizing its market share - http://www.imore.com/does-it-matter-if-samsung-gaining-apple-mobile-profit-share-nope-heres-why but it's going to need solid advertising to keep doing that - this isn't it. This thread is about the ad, not the products; I'll bet that the iWatch outsells Google Glass in a couple of years but profit per unit is only gonna hold up if Apple gets back to ads which focus on the product.

JJ said...

Speaking of Doucy I still think they shld have gone with the name Maxi Pad!

Rich Becker said...

It is left Apple because it might be TALKING about why Apple is unique in the industry, Apple used to SHOW innovation with uniquely creative spot that celebrated what people could do wit it. Sure, what you said has all the right words, but they are in a very wrong order.

wwritter said...

Apple needs a new product (keyword being *new*) or even a substantive change to one of their existing products. Marketing doesn't matter until you have something to sell. Maybe that means diluting their clean product line with all varieties of phones? Throwing stuff at the wall. I'm not sure. What does one do exactly, when their product's cool is eroding?

Robson Lelles said...

In the end, are they "Jobsless" minds?

Laura Cabrera said...

Such a boring commercial. I almost fell asleep watching it.

bramkoster said...

I largely agree with the post - this is a serious change in tone and approach for apple - far from the iconic 'think different' or 'hi I'm a Mac'

Apple was about irreverence, youthful, part of the thoughtful in crowd, simple and intelligent.

This could well be an ad for John Lewis ad or a bank.

While John Lewis has great ads they are largely a function of a strong British cultural relevance. They limit their ads to Christmas for this type of mush- consumers are most receptive to mush in December.


The banks , insurance companies do similar ads. These suffer from what Apple suffers from. Very broad target audience ( everyone) which leads to bland mediocre aspirations. Leading to eye rolling mush in terms of emotional ads.


I think emotion should be part of Apples greatness, their consumers do love their products. It is clear they have lost their way with this ad cycle but it is no' end of brand' disaster - this type of non- ad is so easily forgotten it does little damage or benefit.


Finding their soul ( or voice) can be done, lets hope heads roll at the client who I am sure pushed the buttons on this.


Love to hear rebuttals.

Bill Klaproth said...

Every marketer needs to remember "Its not what you make, it's how you make people feel." Playing to the emotional connection people have with products, that's what Apple is doing here. It's smart. Now the "syrupy" music they chose and soft voice-over doesn't help convey "cutting edge," which you would expect from Apple, but the essence of the spot, in my opinion is very well done. Let's not ring the death bell for Apple just yet.

epukinsk said...

If you buy into the distinction within the design world between "Product Design" and "Experience Design" then in some sense, Apple's product *is* the expressions on peoples' faces and such. Apple isn't selling you a device, the device is just the plate on which the experience is served.

Of course, if you think Experience Design is poppycock then this argument is not persuasive.

OwerrC said...

People do realize there was a 3 year gap between the first iphone and the first ipad right?? And an even longer gap before that with the ipod - iphone. It's been BARELY 3 years since the ipad, and people are acting as if the world is ending because apple haven't invented a new product category yet.

Seriously, there are better things to do than analyze every move of apple under the microscope. There were PLENTY of terrible ads from apple back in the days, too. http://www.cultofmac.com/182021/the-top-10-worst-apple-ads-of-all-time-feature/

min amisan said...

"AirMac" is the name for Apple's AirPort in Japan. I myself have an AirMac Express, so I guess it is possible. Not sure if that's what Tony was referring to, though.

Paul Suggett said...

Just like the Apple ad in question. All emotion and no substance. And if you could point out, for my inferior intellect, what Apple has done that is groundbreaking since the iPad, please let us all know. The ad is sentimental mush and you know it.

DenTarthurdent said...

Yes; I think that you've crystallized my feelings on this ad. Too broad a target audience is the key; owning an Apple used to make you feel superior, like you were part of a small elite club "in the know". Retaining a feeling of exclusivity when you have a huge market share is a hard trick to pull off but it can be done. This ad kind of does the opposite.

Tonio Loewald said...

I very much doubt a person who really owns Apple gear would cite their wireless hub as evidence.

Elena said...

soooo boring, i couldn't even watch it until the end, too bad for apple!

safdar said...

Why samsung is beating iphone. Because they are aggressive. They are thinking and doing well for the new product. They are working hard for getting the position in the market and the result is they are taking it.

Rob Tafarro said...

I work in the retail side of things and young people have to goal of owning Apple their whole short existence. Older people still gravitate to it that are newbies, but the rest can't wait to either get away from it or drop it dead for android. I'm sure there are some wanker business types still embracing the ipad or iphone but it's usually cause their company embraced it over years and can't change on a dime or they'd dump too. It's simple, apple is overpriced and not exciting anymore and full of themselves like Microsoft.