How advertising saved Apple

17 09 2010

There’s no denying that Apple is the brand in the tech world.

A company that in 1997 was on the brink of bankruptcy is now at the forefront of the industry. Innovative. Hip. Iconic. Apple inspires loyalty in customers that is often downright fanatical (see people camping out to be first in line for the new iPad).

As amazing as Apple’s turnaround is, what’s even more amazing is how they did it.

Their engineers make great products, but it’s not as if they are light years ahead of the competition. Many would even argue that competitors such as Google outdo Apple in some instances.

Where Apple separates itself is advertising. The company, or in most cases, the creative talent it hires, has done a brilliant job of connecting with consumers, and they’ve done it primarily through a series of memorable and inspired commercials.

The majority of these commercials have two major characteristics:

1.Rather than talk about gigabytes and CPU cycles, they show you how technology can make your life better. They focus on people. The human element.

In an ad for a feature called FaceTime, which allows you to see the person you are talking to on the phone, a soldier sits on the edge of his bunk, holding out his iPhone, video-chatting with his wife/girlfriend at the hospital back home as she’s getting an ultrasound. His eyes well up as he sees his son for the first time.

I learned in the newspaper business that the story is always about people. That also holds true in marketing and advertising.

2. The ads also capture what is cool and current. Many of Apple’s best-known spots feature music by of-the-moment, cutting-edge artists, or what is known today as “indie” artists. Guess what type of music Apple’s target market overwhelmingly listens to? Indie music. Combine that with fresh, artful imagery, and these ads have made the iPod and iPhone symbols of good taste in many people’s eyes.

Apple’s story is a testament to the power and importance of communication. The writers and other creative professionals who have “framed” Apple’s products so beautifully literally saved the company and have completely turned around its fortunes. Kudos to Steve Jobs for hiring the best.

By being better at communicating with consumers than its competitors are, Apple has passed them up.

Now if I could just get better reception on this iPhone…

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