A simple message that has done Nintendo a lot of favours in the past year. So why does it fall short of the mark as the cornerstone of Apple’s new ad campaign for the iPhone?
We are faced with an image split in two. On one side there is “your phone”, the other “iPhone”. People are bouncing from the former over to the latter with ease – why haven’t you switched? There are a number of variants on this theme, highlighting everything from security to the ease with which you can shift your music and photo libraries over to a new iPhone. My problem here is that it sets a precedent that doesn’t necessarily work in Apple’s favour: you (the consumer) currently have an Android. You’re probably quite happy with it. But look how easy it is to make the change. Look, it’s even easy to shift your contacts! I’m sorry but in what world is the ability to shift over your address book a headline selling point? A good number of people, myself included, have their contacts saved directly to their SIM card anyway! I’m sure this focus on the ease of transfer between phones is based on market research that showed that it was a key reason individuals were unwilling to make this change, but really. The response to the campaign on social media at the time of writing is pretty damning – the fact its 20k views garnered only 8 reactions on a Facebook sponsored post shows that the call for action is hardly well received (and you should see the comments!)
Clicking through to Apple’s site presents you with a long list of the iPhone’s merits: a great camera, customer support, messenger, all that good stuff. However, very little of this was conveyed in the video ads. Their message was simple (and admittedly effective) – it’s easy to switch. This idea is for the most part cast aside, replaced by a shopping list of the merits of iPhone and iOS. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but it doesn’t make for a cohesive, let alone convincing, overall story for the campaign. Simplicity swiftly gives way to a heavy sales pitch with its only charm coming from a smattering of emojis.
Whisk yourself back to 2006 and the well-regarded run of “Get a Mac” ads. These videos had a lot in common with this new campaign: both convey why Apple’s product is preferable to their main competitor by comparing the two in some way. The difference is in how they approach it. The takeaway message of the 2006 campaign was that PC’s were slow and incompetent (shown as a bumbling dimwit, superbly played by John Hodgman) while Macs were shown to be intelligent and charismatic (the wonderful Justin Long, fresh out of his starring role in hit-film Dodgeball). Just like the hilarious polarity between Globo Gym and Average Joe’s Gymnasium in the 2004 comedy, Apple were portraying themselves as the good guy, the plucky innovator who could stand up to their big-headed competitor. This is a narrative that people can engage with.
So assessing value in relation to a market competitor makes a lot of sense and has worked well in the past. It must be how they handled it this time round, right? Not quite. This new campaign’s issues are not merely with its implementation. It goes without saying that Apple make beautiful, innovative products and maybe that’s the problem. People now take the iPhone for granted and without any game changing alterations to their formula on the horizon (sorry iPhone 8, wireless charging and an OLED display might not cut it), the product has become just another viable option in an increasingly saturated smartphone market.
I’ll leave you with the comment section of the aforementioned Facebook ad…