The Day Apple Blinked


I don’t suppose most people saw it.  But there it was.  Fear.  From Apple.  The fearless.  The icon.  The brand so many (including myself) have held up as the standard of great communications.  Great marketing.

Designed by Apple in California.

Most people saw an ad by Apple explaining how the brand sees the world and why their products are so great.  I saw Apple, now on the defensive.  I saw the creative strategy behind the ad; the creative brief that started with a situation describing – “Apple is facing increased competition, especially from Korean manufacturer Samsung, who is taking market share and exhibiting leadership in part by highlighting innovations that Apple doesn’t have and by trying to make Apple seem old-fashioned.”

And someone at Apple blinking.  Someone at Apple saying – “We need to do something about this!” 

I’m going to give the agency credit.  I’m going to hope they tried to guide Apple to not do this ad.  An ad that grovels before the competition.  Designed in California?  Really?  I grew up in California, but since when did the state become so magical that just to invoke its name will make me prefer an electronics product?  Wisconsin cheese?  Maybe.  Michigan blueberries?  Okay.  Idaho potatoes?  Sure.  California Apples? 

I’m going to believe the agency got forced into doing this ad.  Forced by agency economics – “If we don’t do what they want, they’ll give the assignment to another agency.  Another agency to which they could give more assignments.  And it will be public that another agency is involved.”  The agency slippery slope.  If the agency were not forced into this, shame on them.

Apple was the leader.  And I’ll continue to use some of their past efforts in my workshops (the genius of “I’m a Mac.  I’m a PC”).  But with one change in strategy an era has ended.  Apple has become just another advertiser.