Apple is still innovating… perhaps just not how you’re expecting

28 Jun

Do you know what I’m tired of? I’ll tell you.

I’m tired of seeing advertisements for smartphones that make me feel inadequate.

I’m tired of seeing beautiful people in private member’s clubs, looking no more dishevelled as they pour themselves out of cabs at five in the morning than Kate Moss on a photo shoot.

And I’m really tired of learning that people who own smartphones are always having fun, laughing over upbeat music, as they sit there in their perfect clothes, running around beautiful landscapes, taking photos of all the friends they’ve made because they have the coolest phone on the beach.

Advertising fatigue

These kinds of advertisements are not for consumers like you and me; they’re for a demographic of early smartphone users who have long since disappeared. How do I know? Because we all now own one. And yet, this is still the way we’re being sold to.

Galaxy S4 Group Play Ad

Take for instance the recent Galaxy S4 advert. It shows off the ‘Group Play’ function in a locker room filled with chiselled hunks. They need motivation to win their Basketball game; something I can of course relate to.

HTC One Boom Sound Ad

Or there’s the HTC One Boom Sound advertisement, which demonstrates another feature – frontal speakers that improve the listening experience, because every person who owns a smartphone loves the latest bands.

The problem is, it’s not just hipsters and teenagers who own smartphones now. So isn’t it time to move on from this narrow, under diluted perception of consumer appeal? Smartphones aren’t new any more. And while Samsung and HTC might not get it, with a great sigh of relief, I am pleased to say: Apple gets it.

And now for something a bit different…

Here comes the breath of fresh air.

Thank goodness for that. Thanks Apple.

Until now, smartphone and tablet advertising has focused on the rational ‘you need this feature’ advertising appeal. But Apple’s new approach takes a welcome step away from this. It’s distinctly emotive; arguably a little overdone, yes, but this is new territory, so I think we can cut them some slack. Largely, the iPhone hasn’t changed, but this new marketing approach acknowledges that we, as consumers, have. Who needs product innovation when you have product placement innovation?

Gone is the slick, the modern, the minimalist. Instead, Apple has brought back the clutter, the real world – a girl on her bed, children in a classroom, a woman on the subway – no longer people in glorious, unrealistic and featureless environments. Yes, it retains an element of Apple’s clean advertising, but that’s their brand. Nonetheless, Apple has tapped into the truth that people’s lives aren’t shiny and perfect as they’ve been made out to be. For me, that’s where the emotional connection lies – Apple are acknowledging that they’ve been wrong, while simultaneously asserting that, once again, they’re the first to get it right.

If that’s not enough, then the ethereal, acoustic soundtrack ought to win you over. It’s burnished with naturalism rather than with a cheap, irritating hook (I refer you to the Galaxy S4 advert above). We can suddenly let ourselves feel that Apple understands us… that their new smartphone will blend perfectly into our daily – real – lives.

Innovation in advertising

Despite complaints that Apple is failing to innovate, such as this one by Heidi Moore in the Guardian earlier this year, it is clear that they continue to stay one step ahead of consumer fatigue.

I know what you’re thinking – this is just an ad campaign – and you’re right. It might not seem like a big step. But then consider that this is arguably the first smartphone advertisement of its kind which promises to improve our lifestyle without shoving sexy features down our throats. And it comes from a company that brought us the smartphone in the first place… Does that not count for something?

I predict that this is a benchmark for smartphone advertising. I’m not saying the campaign is perfect, but it’s a start. Apple made a name for itself by doing what others didn’t dare to try, and now they’re doing it again. This ‘feely’ advertising might be sick-making for some, but looking at the bigger picture, it makes a damn refreshing change from the norm.

Made in California. Bring it home, Apple. Good work.

Keep up with all my latest opinions by following me on Twitter, @WillHillier.

Do you disagree? Here’s an alternative perspective.

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44 Responses to “Apple is still innovating… perhaps just not how you’re expecting”

  1. segmation July 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Love your style of writing and totally agree with you on Apple, you are right on! What do you think of Microsoft’s advertising, is that next?

    • Will Hillier July 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Thanks Beth, sure thing I will be take a look at Microsoft’s advertising next that’s a good idea. Consider it in the blog pipeline!

  2. bernasvibe July 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    @This ‘feely’ advertising might be sick-making for some, but looking at the bigger picture, it makes a damn refreshing change from the norm.

    Made in California. Bring it home, Apple. Good work.
    …Yes, yes, yay! Very GOOD work Apple..the first and once time one & only; doing what they do best. Starting the ball rolling…EVERY other cell company looks first to “see” what Apple has or is doing. In order to one-up something; there had to be a precedent; and in the cell biz its Apple. I’m an Apple -Cali-type-of -girl-even-tho-recently-moved-from-Cali…Loved the content. Loved your Write. Sending you a virtual hug!

    • Will Hillier July 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      Thanks! Glad you liked it. Virtual hug received! 😉

      • nicholasrosa July 2, 2013 at 5:47 am #

        Who cares. Everyone has their own opinions. Apple has no different way of advertising than any other company. Other company’s, HTC for example – list and advertise how good their Sound system is. (Boomsound) Another example – Samsung, advertise the software of the phone, the quality, the more important things like “Camera effects or quality”. Apple, advertises how not only do their innovations help people, it’s bringing our society to another level of curiosity and intelligence. It’s helping the lives of others in many ways, but isn’t that what all technology is for? It is only for entertainment, only to make it for convenient for our needs. I’ll do the math for you, Microsoft, will advertise how everything is in one. The surface pro introduces easy multitasking, (Again, convenience) and show how apple isn’t good with multitasking. Htc boom sound, it wasn’t necessary, but they wanted attention. They wanted people to say “Why didn’t we think of this ages ago?” Instead of looking at advertising, look into what matters. Look into the companies view of things. Look into, “how can we make things easier for people so we gain advantage?” Kudos to apple for their simple ness, but give other companies props for their intelligence as well. Apple is no different from other advertisers.

  3. ceruleanstarshine July 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Indeed–my life has never been as glamourous as the Smartphones make it out to be. I much prefer realistic advertising compared to “glamour” shots. They just make me feel like a total loser since I am too damn busy to run around and phone bump in locker rooms and Instagram my entire day. You know?
    Great post!

    • Will Hillier July 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

      Yes! I totally know. Thanks for your comment – and by the way, love the infographic on your blog!

      • ceruleanstarshine July 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

        Thanks! I love infographics~ they’re such a nice mix of visualization and text combined into something that can be quite striking. 🙂

  4. arollinson July 1, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    I’d just like to mention that this isn’t something new for Apple, Steve Jobs determined this alternate method of advertising for Apple long ago, and he was inspired by companies like Nike who did it even before Apple. That being said, I hate Apple, and the HTC One is the best phone I have ever had. I do agree with you however, the Apple ad is far more appealing and realistic than the other two. And I would also like to say that Steve Jobs was a marketing genius, whatever his negative qualities were. But that speaker! I can see why HTC focused on the speakers, they are better than the ones on the laptop I am using to type this! Check out this video and see that Apple has done this for a long time now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg7IzUtyxrw

    • Will Hillier July 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

      Thanks for your insight, I am impressed by the speakers on the HTC too. But they will go out of date! I loved that video you posted of Steve Jobs – I completely agree with him that marketing is about values. There are just so many brands out there to compete with now.

  5. bgillespie76 July 1, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Great post. I love Apple. People are just waiting to pounce on successful companies.

    • Will Hillier July 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

      Well if they didn’t pounce on them, they wouldn’t innovate… think about it 😉

  6. Morton Design Works July 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    We were at the cusp of a new reality just a few short years ago, and Apple led the way with a style and panache that was unmatched. I would argue the point that Blackberry was the first smartphone, but what’s the point? Apple took what was possible, what Blackberry was doing with the phone, and made it appeal to more than just the guy in the suit. Apple made the smartphone relevant in everyone’s life.

    I think what we are seeing now with the current “rotten” Apple publicity is merely the fact that smart phones aren’t new and exciting anymore. As you said, they are commonplace. Everyone has one, from the hipster youth to the responsible middle, the rich and even (dare I say it?) the poor. EVERYONE has a smartphone. That Apple hasn’t blown our minds with a product as revolutionary as the iPhone is akin to saying Henry Ford followed up the release of the Model T with just another car. Did we expect him to invent a spaceship?

    Phones have become so commonplace that it has now become the task of companies and their advertising think tanks to “WOW” us with their individual features.

    I, like you, see something in the continuing progress of Apple. It’s not as flashy and exciting as it was, but it’s relevant. Others will never see this, and in truth Apple may fall from it’s place someday. The fact remains that those who find value in their product will remain loyal. Good for you for expressing that view and providing an alternative to the current philosophical trend…

    • Will Hillier July 1, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

      Thanks Greg for you comments, it’s great to see your feedback. I didn’t want to sound predictable by lauding Apple’s work – in fact, my iPhone is the first and only Apple product I’ve ever bought. But I’m so won over by their marketing that it’s really a pleasure to be marketed to, and I think that’s really the point in this day and age – people get it and when it’s being done wrong, they spot it.

  7. Kami Tilby July 1, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    I only wish other advertisers would follow Apple’s lead. Great writing on your part! You pulled me right in there with you!

    • Will Hillier July 1, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

      Thanks Kami, that’s really great to hear!

  8. MultiCoreChina.com July 2, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    Apple is moving towards a dead-end road, innovating with emotional stuff…colours, shape, etc..rather than going through technology and chipset improvement.

    The eternal battle, emotional(colours) vs rational(technology)

    Great blog by the way! Keep up the good work!

  9. Carpenter's Quill July 2, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    Bringin’ it home for sure! I love their new ads, and the music attached to them. Although we use smartphones for everything ‘handy’ and ‘convenient’ (from photos to flashlights), the real connection are the moments we experience through them. Apple captured some of those brilliantly. I gotta say I’m not opposed to hunks or muscles though either…just sayn’. ;). Congrats on the press!!!!!!

  10. sevent2 July 2, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    Would you still have made this post if it was the exact same ad from any other company besides Apple? That’s the question I always ask when I see these posts. You made some fantastic points, but you pulled some of the worst ads that Samsung and HTC have made to prove a point. Both companies actually have much nicer campaigns running that are of more of a global appeal to all customer types… Just saying.

    Otherwise, very well written and you definitely got the right videos to prove your opinion 🙂

  11. cavegirlmba July 2, 2013 at 3:15 am #

    Agreed!

  12. techsmut. July 2, 2013 at 5:06 am #

    Reblogged this on TechSMUT.

  13. lissyno1 July 2, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    I quite agree!

  14. achowfin July 2, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Reblogged this on Education Matters and commented:
    Some interesting information; I like Apple’s approach.

  15. rramrakhyani July 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Apple is loosing its shine and the other players in the market are exploiting that weakness. Tim Cook should definitely come back a plan.

  16. rramrakhyani July 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Apple is loosing its shine and the other players in the market are exploiting that weakness. Tim Cook should definitely come back with a plan.

  17. Soltech Security July 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    It’s definitely an interesting point you make here. I can’t say that I really noticed it but now that you’ve pointed it out, I do agree. A lot of I guess the competitors have really targeted a niche group of people, and in doing so, definitely do alienate some others. I think you make a great point in pointing out how Apple has taken that bold yet innovative route in procuring the “at-home, normal people” aspect, and i think others will continue to follow. For example if you take a look at the new galaxy S4 active commercial. That was the first commercial that came to mind when I read your post. But great insight from you and hope to see more!

  18. balauru July 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Reblogged this on The New Playground.

  19. mrinal2013 July 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Reblogged this on Internet Darshan and commented:
    Apple is still innovating… perhaps just not how you’re expecting

  20. Beverly Hills Graphic Design July 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    Wow, great article! Agree with everything you say.

  21. evanjlittle July 2, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    Great perspective. It’s also worth mentioning how Apple doesn’t degrade it’s competition by comparing products. Instead it just assumes they’re in their own playing field. I look forward to future posts!

  22. Liza Wood July 3, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    Insightful post. I completely agree that advertising is way more effective when it targets our everyday life. That’s why I liked the HTC “You” campaign (from 2010… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQzMY_cWUck). In my mind, Apple is not the first to do a campaign that is not about flashy features. However, as usual, they picked the right time for when the market wants a campaign like that.

  23. Mrs. Geek July 3, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    I’ll admit it. Advertising works on me.
    I love my gadgets and while I love my smartphone..I could live without it.
    I know exactly where you are coming from and I agree that all media outlets make overstatements on most products. This goes for all products in all industries alike. That’s what sells.

    Great post!

  24. Beverly Hills Graphic Design July 3, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    Great Article. I agree with you 100 percent!

  25. nicholasrosa July 3, 2013 at 5:27 am #

    Who cares. Everyone has their own opinions. Apple has no different way of advertising than any other company. Other company’s, HTC for example – list and advertise how good their Sound system is. (Boomsound) Another example – Samsung, advertise the software of the phone, the quality, the more important things like “Camera effects or quality”. Apple, advertises how not only do their innovations help people, it’s bringing our society to another level of curiosity and intelligence. It’s helping the lives of others in many ways, but isn’t that what all technology is for? It is only for entertainment, only to make it for convenient for our needs. I’ll do the math for you, Microsoft, will advertise how everything is in one. The surface pro introduces easy multitasking, (Again, convenience) and show how apple isn’t good with multitasking. Htc boom sound, it wasn’t necessary, but they wanted attention. They wanted people to say “Why didn’t we think of this ages ago?” Instead of looking at advertising, look into what matters. Look into the companies view of things. Look into, “how can we make things easier for people so we gain advantage?” Kudos to apple for their simple ness, but give other companies props for their intelligence as well. Apple is no different from other advertisers.

  26. yosephvera July 3, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    anyway until this time apple is the best, but still a high class stuff here

  27. Robson J Duk July 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    I’m getting more apathy for Apple which I didn’t have a year ago.
    This ad is good, they seem to be taking big steps to appeal to a much wider audience…good point well made here.

  28. anilj1125 July 3, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Reblogged this on ANIL JOSHI.

  29. vlau429 July 5, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    Reblogged this on vanessalau.

  30. CK289 July 6, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    Advertising has been and likely always will be about selling aspirations. Most of the time when a ‘realistic’ ad is run the feedback is negative. Consumers unabashedly claiming that they don’t want to see themselves on television. And I suppose you could argue that we’ve been conditioned to think that way. But that doesn’t change the fact that advertising companies are hired to sell products and for the most part they use techniques that are successful, even if over stylised. I think that all three of these ads are effective and perhaps the first two ads aren’t innovative, but the products sure are.

  31. Mandrew July 7, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    Reblogged this on Read This As Part Of A Healthy Lifestyle.

  32. pikkuneiti July 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    The fact is that apple is human, he is not selling you a lifestyle but a compromise, he is selling you an engagement that’s the huge difference, it’s not something that’s going to make you hip or cool, no this is something that will bring you together with the ones you love, something that’s a part of your 24/7 life and not just to stand out because in the end it’s all about reliability like family and friends. Good post!

  33. astuce pour heros De camelot August 22, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    Heya! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the excellent work!

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