Apple has a pretty good history of creating memorable and popular commercials. It dates back to their now-infamous 1984 ad, and continues through to the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads from a few years ago. But lately, I’ve been a little burned out on Apple’s standard ad format—white background, anonymous hands playing with an iDevice, hip music playing over a friendly narrator. These are the kinds of ads they’ve been running since the first iPhone came out, and it’s getting a little stale.
More than just stale… the latest iPhone ads are borderline insulting. “If you don’t have an iPhone, then… well… you don’t have an iPhone” is a statement that just smacks of condescension. The tagline might as well be, “If you don’t have an iPhone, you’re not cool.” Here’s a sample of one of these ads i’m talking about, in case you’ve somehow missed them:
But over the weekend, Apple put out a new ad, and it’s a marked departure for the brand. This is a mission-statement style of ad, and one that opens with the phrase, “This is what we believe…” In politics, this would be called a “message” ad.
The brand that has spent several years marketing on style, design, and materialism is now going to market to us based on values. And whether or not you share Apple’s values, the move is—from a marketing standpoint—somewhat brilliant.
Granted, the ultimate message of the ad is still a little cocky: “Our technology is so good, you won’t even realize how good it is.” But in terms of how the company is pitching consumers, this is a much better direction than the most recent slate of iPhone ads. Instead of materialism, the main thrust of the ad is about making our lives easier and efficient through the use of well-designed technology. It’s almost as though someone whispered in their ear, “Psst, those recent iPhone ads make you look pretty smug.”
This new ad has a completely different look and feel. The background is black, not white, and that’s even a new narrator, I believe. Even the type of background music is more serious, less playful. It definitely still feels like an Apple commercial, but not one we’ve seen before. And the views it’s racked up would seem to suggest that fans are enjoying the new, more-sensitive Apple—the new ad has nearly a million views after only two days, while the “If you don’t have an iPhone” spot above has only 400,000 in a month..
Time will tell if this is a new marketing voice for Apple, or if this is just a one-off ad. I certainly hope it’s the former. But either way, it’s good to see that even the top companies are trying to grow and adapt, rather than merely resting on previous video marketing success.