Apple's strange new ad campaign: 'If it's not an iPhone it's not an iPhone'

Apple released two new iPhone ads on Thursday, which are a break from its recent storytelling style. Prior to this campaign, Apple’s more recent ads showed how different functions of the smartphone actually help people get more out of their lives, or do their jobs better, or get closer to their families.

But these new spots, which we first saw on AppleInsider, are more functional — and, frankly, a little strange.

The first, “Hardware and Software,” declares that unlike other phones, Apple designs both “the hardware part. And the software part.” Which is true. And fine. But who, outside of the tech world, ever utters the words “hardware” or “software” in everyday sentences? Do those words actually mean anything to the average Joe?

The tagline is, “If it’s not an iPhone, it’s not an iPhone.”

The intent seems to be to point out that the smartphone world has cleaved into just two groups, Apple’s phones and those of everyone else — and Apple now wants you to regard all other phones as mere non-iPhones. But the tagline phrase contains a slightly confusing circular truism that jars with the imagery. You are literally looking at a phone that is an iPhone when the voiceover tells you “… it’s not an iPhone.”

Another new ad is interspersed with frames showing different apps in action. But the scenes flick in and out so quickly, it’s difficult to decipher what the apps are, or what they do.

The next ad, “Loved,” proudly declares that “99% of people who have an iPhone, love their iPhone.” There’s no mention of where that stat comes from (not even in small print at the bottom.) An odd dance music track plays in the background, while Apple shows scores of iPhones displaying iPhone users gallivanting around, having fun.

AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell sums up why the new ads seem uninspiring compared with Apple’s recent marketing efforts: “Today’s commercials could mark a new direction for Apple, one that is very much a divergence from humanized, artful spots like the holiday 2013 iPhone ad that tugged on heart strings. Those ‘quiet’ commercials were made memorable by what they didn’t show; iPhone as a device was second to how it affects your life. And that was the point.”

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