Apple isn’t Apple anymore

Apple recently released its newest ad promoting the iPhone 5s. Take a look.

Chirpy, feel-good indie music accompanies people doing incredible things with their iPhones. Painting murals, plotting courses, administering medical aid to impoverished people. The possibilities are truly endless.

And that really is the message of this ad. With an iPhone 5s, you are empowered to do amazing things–things you might not have realized possible.

It’s a pretty ad. But it’s terrible.

Who needs a soul when you have product features?

The thought process behind this ad is not hard to see. People view iPhones as lifestyle devices. It’s popular and ubiquitous, but market research probably showed that most people don’t know what their phones are capable of.  I certainly didn’t know that I could take a horse’s pulse with a phone.

This led to a well-meaning marketing head at Apple requesting that the agency create an ad focusing on product features, in order to educate consumers. This led TBWA to create an ad focusing on the specific and surprising capabilities of the iPhone 5s.

So what’s the problem?

Replace the iPhone in that advertisement with a Samsung Galaxy. Or an LG G3. Or a Sony Xperia. Would the advertisement still make sense? The answer is yes. This is the mark of a troubled advertisement.

The message “your phone empowers you to do amazing things” can be applied to the majority of the smartphones on the market–certainly those competing with Apple. If anything, Android phones already have a better reputation for amazing capabilities due to their customization and the fact that for the past couple years, Android manufacturers have led the way with new features (e.g. waterproofing, smart watches, etc.).

This ad is a clear departure from what made the iPhone so popular in the first place: accessible technology through Apple’s sleek and easy-to-use UI, all in a styling form factor. Other brands caught up to Apple, but Apple, rather than innovating to stay ahead of the competition, began to chase competitive features.

If Apple continues along this path, then it will suffer in the face of Android’s dramatic increase in market share.

Iconic Apple

Smart phones have changed the world as we know it. It has given us the power to communicate easily with the world at-large. But recently, smart phones have increasingly become commoditized with fewer features to distinguish them. This means that branding will become more and more important (See: Selling the Neighborhood). If Apple focuses on product features and less on the brand qualities that makes Apple iconic, then it’s easy to see where Android competition can eat away at Apple’s position in the market. In the absence of a clear differentiator, brand takes precedent.

So what is the solution?

Apple should return to its roots in order to convey a clear message to potential customers: the Apple design philosophy is about simplicity and style–not a million features you will never use.

Here’s to the good old days.


There’s something incredibly arrogant about this OOH ad. It’s like Apple isn’t even trying. Never mind the fact that the ad itself blends into the building. It’s just a side view of the phone. You know what? I’m sold. Where is the nearest Apple store?




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