Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Come On Apple, Quit Talking About Yourself So Much

It was going so well. “Shot on iPhone 6” is a fantastic campaign. I’ve written about it already, as a great example of a company bringing its audience right inside of its brand. A brand allowing itself to be defined by its customers.

I suppose in a way the new “If it’s not an iPhone, it’s not an iPhone” spots do the same thing. The problem is that they define Apple by the very worst of its attitude, and the very worst of its customers. Smug, self-absorbed – and just not very interesting.

("Smug, self-absorbed and just not very interesting" was my second choice for the name of this blog.)

“Shot on iPhone 6” was great because it wasn’t really about the iPhone, or about Apple – it was about the talent and personality of the varied people who engage with the brand. That displacement and pluralism gave it power.

“If it’s not an iPhone…” is instead just a puff piece – which has very little to do with the Apple brand. Apple’s mantra is to think differently – to be unique. And the iPhone may be unique in some way. But simply saying that doesn’t make it so.

As Adweek notes, it’s a half step away from being a parody of itself. We’re already pretty well stocked with those.

(And they're often pretty hilarious.)

Frankly, if nothing else this kind of ad should be beneath Apple. Talking consumer satisfaction and how well the hardware is optimised – that’s something you expect from Microsoft or Samsung. Someone with something to prove. Not from the market leader.

(And I wouldn’t necessarily trust any company that feels the need to talk about customers liking the product. If you’re the best tech company in the world, making a good product really ought to be a given.)

It speaks to a lack of confidence. It sounds less like a message, and more like the absence of any message to send. If anything it sounds as though they took the brief for an ad (or perhaps a sales training manual), and then used it word for word as the script.

Telling people you’re unique means nothing. Telling people you’re superior means nothing. Showing what makes you special – without shouting to the rooftops that it’s what you’re trying to do – that is what makes for a compelling message.

“Shot on iPhone 6” did it. It made one feature – the camera – the hero, all while happily ceding the focus to the photographs, with no need for product shots. Simple, and confident.

But this new work sounds like a brand that is self-obsessed, but knows nothing about itself, other than that people think its cool and it wants to cling to that.

Get over yourself Apple. Don’t tell me how great you are. Show me.

Here are the ads.

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