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Apple’s new ads make the company look lame (slate.com)
31 points by npalli 1372 days ago | hide | past | web | 43 comments | favorite

Let's just take a step back and breathe deeply - it's just a shit ad from a company that usually markets things really well to the masses. They'll do their research and find it doesn't jive, then change their tune to something that does.

Watch the masses lose their collective bowels over the new products that are going to be released over the coming months. You know - that season when people drop a lot of cash on things. This idea that if products aren't updated bi-annually the company is going down the toilet will go away.

I don't live in California but I suspect that a lot of people who do might take some pride in it (think sports teams) and when they make something cool, it's nice to see their home state on there and not just an FCC badge and "Made in China". There's nothing wrong with being proud of your work. The same applies with the "Assembled in USA" badge you might see on an Apple or Google product - be proud.

> be proud

Well, what if I am not US citizen?

For people outside of the USA, a "Made in California" sign might be a mark of quality for gadgets, just like "Made in France" for wine, but why adding pride to this?

> what if I am not US citizen?

I'm not a US citizen either. Apple's (and Amazon, Google et al.) primary market is the US. "Designed in California" makes no difference to you and I, but it might make the difference between 15 million vs 15.5 million sales if they drop an extra 0.05 cents worth of paint pointing out where the phone was conceived. That, and I truly believe Apple has a strong sense of pride.

> but why adding pride to this?

Evoking emotion sells your product to people who feel it. Those who don't feel it...eh? They'll still buy the product if they like it. Perhaps you can market it to them in a different way. Broad-spectrum marketing.

I thought this ad was beautiful. It reminds me of Don's "Carousel" pitch from Mad Men (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suRDUFpsHus) the way it focuses on experiences and feelings.

  This is it.
  This is what matters.
  The experience of a product.
  How will it make 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.
Apple is clear about their design philosophy and bold enough to state it directly. I think the author just doesn't like that they are proud of being so good at what they do.

(credit to http://curi.us for having some of these thoughts first)

The big problem I see with the ad is that it tells me what they're signature is.

I'm not going to jump in on the "Apple is over because Steve Jobs is gone train" but I'd argue that up until now, they just had a signature - they didn't tell us about it.

After all, a signature is supposed to be recognized on it's own. If you have to explain the importance of it, it sort of loses some of the significance - right?

Exactly. Just with all other good writing, you have to show, not tell. Those ads with people talking on Facetime for example were great - they showed how Apple's products made life nicer without actually saying "see how your life will be nicer". These new ads unfortunately go the other way.

Now that can still be OK. If for example Apple is actually trying to change the discourse about how people judge devices - "don't judge devices by how much they cost, or their spec sheet, judge them about how much they improve your life" then an occassional ad that explicitly makes people think about things in that way can be effective. It's not about selling an iPhone, it's about getting people to think about these issues when they are in the shop buying a phone, rather than simply just opting for the cheapest phone they salesperson shows them.

Still, it grates. I think they could have got that message across without explicitly stating the message.

"Think different" was their signature. They spent an incredible amount of money in the late 1990's and early 2000's telling us this.

That was their slogan.

A "signature" and what I'd argue they're trying to say here - is something built into their product that you see and say "oh, that's apple." Up till now, they've had that, but never felt the need to say "this is our signature" - because it was obvious.

"Designed by Apple in California" is a slogan. I get what you are saying, but I disagree. The whole "Jobs is dead, so is Apple" idea that has been portrayed in the press warrants a response from post-Jobs Apple. This is it. Its in a very similar vein to the "Think Different" campaign actually.

This is what matters in life .. the 'experience of a product'?

What the..

You're twisting the ad. They didn't say "this is what matters in life", they said "this is what matters". It's an ad for a consumer products company, and the implication is pretty clearly "this is what matters when designing products", not "this is what matters in life".

I think when they show it in every life situation (except on a funeral, maybe), it's safe to assume that the general idea is 'in life'.

Oh - I thought you were criticising the execrable copy.

"The experience of a product."

It's so vague it's meaningless.

Have you been outside in the last half century?

This idea is the foundation of our society, our economy, our entire conception of ourselves. I guess the only difference is that these days the idea is so deep into the water supply, they don't have to be coy about it any more.

There are many things this should make you feel, but surprise isn't one of them.

Maybe not all parts of the world have been so deeply 'californicated by Apple' ;-)

Sounds exactly like the type of campaign Steve Jobs discarded with extreme prejudice, as related in the biography. "Embarassing, Pottery Barn type ads. It's advertising agency bullshit and I hate it", as far as I remember the quote. He replaced those ads with the iconic silhouette iTunes ads.

Oh, also: "Designed by Apple in California" was brilliant in its subtlety, on the back of the iPhone if you looked hard enough. Taking that and making it a 40pt headline destroys the spirit of it and is one of the worst examples I have seen recently of mismanaging brand equity.

Actually it's Designed by Apple in California. But I agree with you I liked it better when it was subtle.

> "This is it. This is what matters," the ad begins. Lofty claims for a suite of consumer gadgets.

Precisely. For all that Apple is, even at its best, it's just a manufacturer of consumer gadgets.

As an aside--this is not related at all to this article--I consider it a slight to Elon Musk when he is considered "the next Steve Jobs." Elon Musk is obviously his own creation, but he also has the potential of bringing more meaningful transformation. Comparing the two is facile, but disappointing on so many levels.

I find that Elon worship almost as unpalatable as Jobs worship. He brings a lot of good ideas to the table but lets not kid ourselves, the consumer electric car was going to get here with or without him.

People make the jobs comparison because, like Jobs, he started out as and outsider.

Bringing personal computing to the masses is pretty important.

True. It's a pity that Steve Jobs gets credit for essentially the revolution that Wintel brought.

Apple brought on the personal computer revolution long before Wintel. Wintel innovated and monopolized.

I'm happy to be corrected, but mass access to computers was something that came not from Apple, IIRC.

I am not sure what you mean by "mass access", but the Apple II was a mass-market personal computer. However, what you might describe as mass-market today is certainly different than in the 1980's, but similarly, the personal computing market size and Wintel's reach during the 1990-2000's will be dwarfed by what mobile computing provides. So its all relative to the market.

With that said, Apple introduced computing into the home as a mass market product. Before that, computing was not approachable by non-hobbyists. Everything since has been built upon this revolution.

To provide some context, below is a 1983 Time Magazine cover, which illustrates the importance of personal computing even then; before Wintel came to be. Apple wasn't the only player at this time of this cover, but they helped start the revolution lead to the magazine cover.


Also, you may find this video interesting, which shows Steve Wozniak walking through the evolution of the Apple computer. Again, all of this occurred before Wintel.



Just as an interesting counter-point, this last video sure is prophetic about how you just never know who will try to eat your lunch.


Historical point conceded. But if mass market smartphone access is what you're talking about (and I only bring it up because you mentioned it) it won't be apple that made it happen but ZTE and Huawei.

Oh, Apple is rarely (in fact, pretty much never) the one who actually makes the dominant product, but it's hard to imagine that a ZTE smartphone would be much like it is today if the iPhone hadn't transformed that market.

I'm pretty sure he didn't mention "mass-market smartphone access" at all.

You could certainly argue that Apple was the trigger for bringing mass access to computers at least three times; the Apple II heavily inspired what went after, the Mac essentially defined what a UI should be for decades afterward (Xerox had theirs before, but made little effort to introduce it to the consumer, and a lot of Lisa and Mac conceptual additions have persisted), and of course the iPhone created the modern smartphone market.

I think that Apple did bring mass access to computers, but it was Microsoft that made personal computers a commodity. It's the same situation Apple is now with iPhone, with Android and Firefox commoditizing the mobile phones.

no you didn't RC

Apple is known as the inventor of the Personal Computer because they, ya know, invented the personal computer in any meaningful sense of the term.

Alright even though I don't exactly like Apple, I think this article is a bit much in it's tone, and this easily spills over to making the substance poor(if not the same thing entirely)..

I don't know, I'd not seen the ads and I think they're pretty shockingly bad.

When I see "Designed in California" I instantly think "Made in China for a pittance, based in Ireland for a tax dodge".

Thinking of the Bay Area designers doing so well out of other people's misery is absolutely the worst thing I could associate with the Apple brand, especially as it plays so readily into the (mostly unfair) "smug hipster" image Apple has created for itself.

That said, unlike the author of the article I am not an Apple fan. I have owned two Apple devices, and both broke in short order. I have an instant distrust of personality cults. Finally, and most importantly for my self-image, I like being able to tinker. So, I suppose, take this comment with a dune of salt.

The Apple ads seem to mostly appeal to the converted, this article is written as linkbait for the haters. "Hipster hates Apple", news at 10.

> If you already adore your collection of Apple stuff [...] you might be charmed by this ad.

I think this was kind of the point of the ad. I felt the vibe was very similar to that of the "think different" ad from the late '90s, which was targeted towards Apple/Mac faithfuls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rzu6zeLSWq8

That ad was released at a low-point in Apple's history, and implored the faithful to hang in there. I'm not sure why this ad was released now though... perhaps asking the faithful not to jump ship, even though there are now fairly well-designed competitive products in the market? No idea.

I agree. I think these ads are targeted at existing users.

They're in part, an effort to reduce dissonance.

"Cognitive dissonance can occur across multiple product lines as well as a competitor's products. Advertising and promotional campaigns can help raise consumer confidence about making product purchases and reduce the chances of buyer's remorse that may cause consumers to return products in favor of those offered by the competition."

My main problem with the ad is it's trying to normalize a world where everyone stares at their bloody phone screens all day. No one is really interacting with each other, just recording videos and tweeting, but they're having SO MUCH FUN doing it!

I'd suggest that this self-indulgent piece of churnalism features pretty high in the "making an organisation look lame" stakes. What Stevenson, and the Slate editorial team, seemingly miss (other than an opportunity for ad impressions) is that this is a manifesto of sorts. Its for their staff and long-term investors. Its advertising Apple, not their products per se. It's not going to be a spot that is run at the same frequency as iPhone or iPad ads.

I actually rather enjoyed the commercial. Other than the "Designed by Apple in California" text that appeared, I found it to be heartwarming.

But how do they release an ad campaign if it tests so poorly? Were they so reliant on Steve Jobs' design and marketing savvy that they have no culture of testing things first?

This particular campaign seems almost like it started out as a video that you would play at a general assembly of Apple employees. Good for them, but for the rest of us?

"Designed by Apple in California" struck me as really weird when I saw it on a bus stop here in Australia.

If seems the author didn't get the GM-like JD Powers email that I got. Apple has figured out where the money is. It just isn't where mine is. I've bought mylast apple products, not because the quality of their ads have fallen off, but because the quality of their products have. Plastic I phones, gold coloring drastically less upgradable Mac pros, soldered on ram and ssds in macbooks, mountain lion sluggishness and missing unix application. Poorly performing ios7 previews-- need i say more?c

Cook is still trying to make a "faster horse" (as was his role during the Jobs era), but with Microsoft on the ropes and Google embroiled in NSA spying (undermining Glass), it's going to be a while yet before any of this matters.

> The company is taking itself waaaay too seriously.

As the writer of the article is with the ad.

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