Photo: Aaron Jacobs/Flickr
Apple began its formal TV campaign for the iPhone 5 over the weekend and while the ads are nice, they’re not exactly breaking new creative ground.In fact, with the iPhone campaign now five years old, they’re looking rather boring and stale.
There, I said it.
Apple and its agency, TBWA/Media Lab may be losing their edge when it comes to new product introductions.
First let’s just go through the obvious caveats:
- iPhones sell themselves. Apple and TBWA probably don’t need to do any advertising (in fact, Apple completely switched off its advertising around the launch of the original iPhone in 2007).
- There’s nothing specifically wrong with TBWA’s ads. They’re well-branded, easily recognised, and largely inoffensive. As long as Apple continues to sell enough phones, it would be a strategic error to change them for something new.
- Only idiots bet against Apple and TBWA.
Unfortunately, early iPhone 5 sales numbers have come in lower than expectations, indicating a “worst-case scenario” for analysts. So let’s look at the marketing. This is the current new campaign for iPhone 5:
In form and substance, it’s basically the same thing as the original iPhone launch campaign from five years ago:
The campaign feels predictable and, therefore, invisible. Ace Metrix’s research shows this is quantifiable true: Ads for the iPad aren’t even in the top 10 for most effective tablet ads in 2012.
The company claims the iPhone is a “completely redesigned … much better phone.” But the advertising is neither.
They’re not alone. There’s a cottage industry on YouTube devoted to creating parodies of chief Apple designer Jony Ive‘s prim, rote insistence — with every new product launch — that whatever his company is now selling is a complete revolution from the one before.
For Apple’s marketers, and for its agency, this is a serious challenge. When your campaign becomes the butt of jokes so much that your chief rival is now positioned as a company that makes fun of you — and sells millions of phones doing so — do you risk changing things up to get consumers’ attention in a new way?
It’s a question I’m glad I don’t have to answer.
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