Ad of the Day: Apple

After a ton of Siri spots, the marketer returns to simple product demos for the iPhone 5

Headshot of Tim Nudd

As much as Apple pushes technology forward, it's often content in its advertising—once it settles on a successful formula—to stick with what's been working, with only minor variations. Look at the iconic "Get a Mac" campaign for Macintosh. That was four years of essentially the same joke. But it was a good joke that never got old (at least, until Microsoft made Windows 7, which wasn't, as Apple suggested in Hodgman and Long's swan song, another "broken promise").

But four years? That's a century in tech marketing.

The iPhone ad campaign is now into year six. And while it's made a few stylistic detours along the way, it's always returned to that most basic of advertising pitches—the product demonstration. The initial iPhone, in 2007, offered an experience so new, it's needed the oldest trick in the book to show it off. That set up a nice framework: Introduce new features with product demos. Then, when they're not so new, flesh them out with extra narrative. (The celebrity Siri spots are an example of the latter.)

This weekend, we got the first four iPhone 5 spots—making 93 iPhone ads in all since the first teaser. Not surprisingly, we're now firmly back in product-demo land, though with a new celebrity voiceover in Jeff Daniels. The core spots are "Thumb" and "Physics," which highlight the device's larger screen and decreased weight and thickness, respectively. A third spot, "Cheese," focuses on its ability to take panoramic photos. A fourth, "Ears," looks at Apple's newly redesigned earbuds.

Visually, the spots are as clean and crisp as ever. The voiceover, though, has a little more fun than usual—both in tone and language. "Ears are weird," Daniels says in the amusing opening line of the headphones ad. And in the panoramic spot, he has to take a breath in the middle of saying "Cheeeeeeeeeese…" because the photo is so wide. As usual, the ads—much like the device they advertise—focus on making small moments a little more pleasant. And in so doing, they embody the entire Apple brand promise.

Apple's widely panned "Genius" spots from earlier this summer show the potential pitfalls of any new approach. The marketer is taking no such chances with the iPhone. With the initial iPhone 5 sales proving weaker than expected, and with Samsung's Galaxy S III—both the device and its advertising—breathing down its neck, Apple is again going with what it knows. And doing so admirably.


Client: Apple

Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

CCO: Duncan Milner

ECD: Eric Grunbaum

GCD: Chuck Monn

CD: Chris Ribeiro, Yo Umeda

ACD/AD: Niraj Zaveri, Masaya Asai, Jay Berry, David Zorn

ACD/CW: Claire Morrisey, Marc D’Avignon, JD Jurentkuff, David Young

AD: Yao Yu, Vidur Raswant, Dustin Arnold

CW: Brooks Jackson

Executive Producer: Eric Voegele

Agency Producers: Serena Auroux, RJ Pomeroy, Chris Shaw, Chelsea Larner, Katie McCain

Production Company: Green Dot Films

Director: Mark Coppos, Rebecca Baehler

DP: Fernando Cardenas

Editorial Company: Nomad Editing Company, Inc.

Editor: Jared Coller, Kevin Clark

Post Company: Company 3 / The Mill

Lead Flame Artist: Brian Robinson (Company 3)

Color Artist: Adam Scott (The Mill)

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.