Apple’s Advertising: From Novel & Beloved to Tired & Overplayed

Posted: June 3, 2009 in Advertising/Marketing, Business
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Courtesy of eGuiders, this is just the latest in a growing serious of Videos and Websites Spoofing Apple’s Mac,  iPod, iPhone, & App Commercials…

Another you might want to take a look at is App For That.

The Apple Marketing/Advertising Campaigns were so recently beloved…They were quirky, innovative, humourous, edgy (in their direct assault of the competition), and they were fun…

My Question is…Have they gotten stale? The same way a song can be overplayed on the radio or how all the popular songs released by some artists all kinda sound the same and blend together…

IMHO this is happening to Apple’s campaign…Yes, sometimes this type of parody is really a testement to the success of the endeavor…It was, and still is, but it’s getting old. Aren’t we all getting sick of the annoyingly upbeat and bouncy music that somehow mainstreams after a serious commerical blitz (See: Yael Naim: New Soul). Aren’t we tired of Justin Long’s tireless I’m a Mac Attacks on the Poor PC Shlub?

Is it time for Apple to take a new approach? I Think So…and think that the neverending parodying of Mac/iPhone ads has evolved from “Playful Spoofing” to – “Enough Already…We Get It…Give Us Something New”

Which Begs The Question – What is the shelf life for today’s commerical advertising campaigns? How many times can we see the same commercial, whether exactly identical or simply stylisticly similar, before it loses it’s effect…before it has the opposite effect and begins to turn us off…before we begin to see through the marketing propoganda and say things like “Justin Long Doesn’t Really  Give A Shit What Computer We Buy” and “They’re Just Playing This Upbeat Music So We Associate It With Their Product.” Not That these were secrets to begin with, but after a certain amount of repetition…that’s all we see…and just like an overplayed song, even the best, most well designed and excecuted ad campaigns become sickening…

And then there are the commercials like this INCREDIBLY ANNOYING IO Digital Cable/Optimum Triple Play spot:

To Which I Ask: How Did This Ever Make It Onto TV? What Idiot Focus Group Gave The Execs At Optimum The Idea That This Would Be At All Successful? We Have a Standing Policy in Our Apartment to Mute or Change the Channel Whenever This Commerical Appears…In Fact, We’ve Even Called and Complained About It…to no avail, of course. Yet…Somehow…It’s Still Airing…Can Someone Enlighten Me PLEASE?

But Back to the topic at hand…in this age of ADDesque attention spans that have paved the way for Tivo/DVR & Platforms like Twitter…How Many Times Can A Commerical Air Before It Loses Its Potency? Do Advertisers Need To Rethink Their Strategy…? Would We Be Any Less Sick Of Apple If They’d Diversified The Style Of Their Commericals & Ads…?

Please! Let Me Know What You Think! Share Your Thoughts! My Blog is Your Blog!

  1. Amanda Beals says:


    As most people I tend to tune commercials out completely. In Apple’s case you are dead on. I can remember a time when there was a poster of Ghandi in Harvard Square (HUGE) with the simple phrase: Think Different. Of course, the Apple logo was minimalist. That sold me on Apple’s ability to grab my heart and make me think (b/c as a student there I was fixated on the grammar).

    These days I actually find the commercials on Hulu to be far more inventive and meaningful. They are replete with charitable organizations and bizzare ads for Trojans. The point being is that a commercial is a stand alone (like an X File stand alone episode); a commercial can be great but it does nothing to support a longer narrative or bond with its consumer.

    Not to be all XFiles, but their stand alone episodes were superb and quirky. However, at that time the XFILES had a devoted core of fans; not to mention Chris Carter would use fan names throughout the series to show how much he appreciated them. For example, any episodes where a list is read for example, a plane manifesto, those were all fans’ names.

    I digress profoundly. Shelf life? Not long.


    • Aerocles says:

      Wow…I Never Watched X-Fils…So I’m at a loss for words. Hulu on the other hand, has done a great job with their advertising. The Commercials with Alec Baldwin and Seth Macfarlane are brilliant – they tell you what hulu is, what they want you to do, in a such a blatent & over-the-top way, that you can’t be mad that they’re trying to sell you something. Not to mention the fact that they are funny, innovative, mini stand-alone episodes, in and of themselves, making them entertaining and not just watchable, but enjoyable…and they are pieces of a larger narrative made up of all the hulu commercials. Plus, i’m sure it was no accident, but Seth & Alec are the posterchildren for NBC & Fox…the two Hulu Collaborators…

  2. Ezra Butler says:

    I agree with you, but there are a few caveats.

    1st of all, you are extremely connected online, so you are going to see the Mac ads much more often than the common man (or woman). Whereas other people will see an ad once or twice a week, you see them all right when they come out, because someone tweeted them.

    2ndly, you are not the target audience of the Optimum Triple Play commercial. As far as I can tell, you are not Latino and you don’t know who the music personality in it is. Not everyone enjoys witty commercials, for some people entertainment still comes in the form of scantly clad women and some large man rapping(?).

    Commercials are all about entertainment. But everyone is entertained differently.

    You have uncovered why the future of Television is the Internet. Congratulations. 🙂

    • Aerocles says:

      I’ll take that last comment as a compliment, even though i know you’re being snarky. I see what you’re saying re: everyone is entertained differently…but how does it help to target one demographic at the risk of alienating others? when a brand markets itself to niche communities it has to maintain it’s overall image or risk losing the mainstream – Just look at Sci-Fi Channel –> SyFY Channel For Example….

      Either Way – Good Points! Thanks for Commenting!

      • Ezra Butler says:

        You have to realize that there are two different things: content and context.

        What shows are you watching while the Optimum commercials come on? Are you watching your telenovelas?

        To take that as an extreme example – should an advertiser be scared that when he/she broadcasts something on a Spanish language channel, that it will alienate anyone else? A less extreme example is advertising in “Out” magazine.

        If an advertiser would place the same ad that it puts on NBC or in Business Week, it would be an epic fail. They have to change the content of the advertisement to fit the context in which it is placed.

        “To what extent” is an excellent question.

        In the case of Optimum, they are trying to create a pseudo music video for their service. If they would bring a mainstream singer like Britney Spears, they would be alienating everyone who doesn’t like pop music. If they would be smart, they would create 5 or 6 music videos in different genres, and play them along with programming that the relevant video would most likely connect with. It would not alienate any single demographic, because everyone would feel equally served (theoretically, barring any xenophobia). In that case, they would be maintaining the image of “music” or “fun” or whatever their catchphrase is.

        I understand and share your frustration of being mis-advertised to because some of your tastes fit into a different cultural stereotype. (Personally, I receive letters in Russian from my phone company, simply because I am an immigrant, and the overwhelming majority of immigrants are from the former Soviet Union. I call them up, and tell them clearly, in Russian, that I do not speak or read Russian.)

  3. Companies need to find the balance between annoying and catchy. It’s a very fine line. Take a look at Geico. They kept changing up their ad campaigns while keeping the same basic themes (gecko, celebrities, cavemen). By altering the rotation or tweaking the creative juices a bit, their ads have felt fresh for a decade.

    Right now, McDonald’s is running McCafe ads on the radio, focusing on the accent mark over the “e.” I thought it was creative the first time I heard it. With such a high frequency, the campaign got real old, real fast.

    It doesn’t take a lot for an ad run to jump the shark, but when it does, it’s OVER.

    • Aerocles says:

      And How to The Advertisers/Execs/Agencies Know When To Pull An Ad? Are They Reading My Blog…Probably Not, But They Should be 🙂 – Or, More Realistically, They Should Be Monitoring Social Media and Actively Looking For Feedback…Which it seems like many outfits have yet to do.

  4. ssmirnov says:

    Fair to commercial expiration dates are getting shorter because of exponential proliferation of spots thru social networking. At the same time, does the DVR/TiVO effect help counterbalance? I’ve become such a fast-forwarding/ad-skipping automaton that I don’t see ANY commercials — until say someone throws me the link on Twitter or Facebook. And now since it’s come to me from a friend, not only am I seeing with fresh eyes, I’m seeing it with the endorsement of a trusted friend or colleague. So the fresh factor is extended. There are also those extraordinary spots that I will never, ever tire of watching — no matter how many times I see them. Dating all the way back to “Time to make the donuts” and the fast-talking FedEx guy — there is some creative that’s worthy of repetition.

  5. I agree with what a few others have said – it really is a fine line advertisers have to walk. You need to reach the necessary people with the ad, and still change it up before it becomes overplayed. With high frequency, a good ad can get really old really fast…companies just need to learn to keep it creative and new within the appropriate time period.

  6. Rachel Kay says:

    I used to represent a large and well-known brand that created a very personable and heartfelt ad campaign which featured a variety of spots centered on a central theme. The spots consistently rated exceptionally high and received significantly positive consumer feedback. Today (years later) they still reinvent those same spots only now they feel extremely repetitive and all sort of fade together. The response just isn’t the same and their sales have suffered (which may or may not be related). A large part of marketing is the art of surprise – when you loose that it’s time to try something new. Jack in the Box is one company, however, that I feel has done an amazing job at keeping the world entertained by a campaign that doesn’t change very much. But they have mastered the art of keeping each one fresh and different.

  7. faris says:

    depends on your model of how ads work

    i think disrupted expectations and novelty are crucial for memory formation and attention.

    Others believe that extreme frequency will force memory formation.

    Annoying ads may still work. Unfortunately. Especially in categories like insurance where salience / top of mind is the only important factor, as you only buy it once a year. Although price comparison engines may be changing the dynamics of that.

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