This morning I got an email from Peter Burrows, a senior writer for Bloomberg/Businessweek. Peter writes regularly about science, research, tech, Silicon Valley and Apple. We talk about the latter every now and then. Peter’s latest query asked whether I thought Apple’s most recent commercials were any indication that the company was getting closer to a post-Jobsian voice.
I sent Peter a note, and thought I’d share my answer here. After all, everyone likes to talk about Apple and its advertising.
Short answer: perhaps getting closer, yes.
Apple has always been about empowering and enabling the individual (all the way back to 1984). And, as stated previously, always about being the company that made it possible and easy compared to the Microsofts and IBMs who made it hard and exclusive.
These spots get back to that somewhat. iPhone users can accomplish amazing things. iPhone users are creative and innovative. iPhone users are improve-the-world-and-their-lives-kinds-of- people.
So on that front, all good. In a way I like the fact that Apple is reaching beyond the ordinary things that everyone and anyone can do with a phone, i.e. last year’s “Misunderstood” commercial about a kid making a holiday film. (Although I really liked that commercial as the teenager was a bit of a maverick, which aligns with Apple’s earlier user mindset.)
I do wonder if the commercials, while inspiring and beautiful, aren’t a little soft. Though that may be the times we live in. These days the marketing zeitgeist (sorry to use that word) is all about “me.” Better individual user experiences, selfies, #icebucketchallenge, personal data, even the Harvey Nichols “I spent it on myself” campaign from last Christmas all seem to acknowledge that the biggest user trend is me, me me. If you look across the landscape, it’s everywhere. I think that this commercial taps into that current trend in a meaningful — and more subtle than some other marketers — way, which is also good.
The question is this: will the spots actually inspire users and make them feel as if they can/be/do/achieve the things being done in the commercials? Apple, historically, has always managed to do that. I can rebel against authority. I can “think different.” I can be hipper than the dorky Microsoft guy. I can be as free as the music I listen to. Parenthood sure. Dreams maybe.
All in all, I like them. And the music in Dreams works quite nicely as it appears to be about both the user and the iPhone.
What do you think? Do the spots resonate? Are they big enough? Too small? Is there a post-Jobsian voice here?