Apple Pats Itself on the Back in These Oddly Self-Affirming iPhone Ads

A device that's loved by everyone

In case you were wondering, only an iPhone is an iPhone, says Apple in a head-scratching pair of new ads.

"Loved" points out, unsurprisingly, that everyone who has an iPhone is a fan. A second spot, "Hardware & Software," argues that because Apple is responsible for controlling the manufacturing of the device itself, and developing the software that runs on it, it's more reliable than imitators.

The spots are slick, and zippy, in Apple's usual style. They're well-produced, with a lot to look at—happy people snapping candids, nifty apps at work—in some ways, the bread and butter of the mobile revolution, or at least its promise. Unfortunately, while Apple can claim bragging rights for essentially inventing the smartphone, there's a casual smugness to the approach that seems to parody itself unintentionally—just shy of the kind of thing Microsoft would come up with in an attempt to hawk a knockoff feature.

Anyone not living under a rock knows what an iPhone is, and that it's "different." But particularly in the first ad, Apple's cool factor—while a significant part of the company's historical success—doesn't work very well as an explicit selling point. Especially not compared to the brand's recent Grand-Prix-winning print campaign, which blew up to billboard size gorgeous imagery that users shot on their iPhones and did a much better job of creating an instant emotional connection to the product.

It did so, notably, by showing in a simple and focused way what it could do for buyers—a specific, powerful use demonstrated to the extreme (rather than, say, a contrived, would-be sizzling blitz through the many potential joys of having one).

The second spot is a little better, with the possibility of spurring consumers who are considering an alternative to dig deeper on the debate around the pros and cons of Apple's closed system and the more open Android. It suffers, though, from the same ridiculous tagline: "If it's not an iPhone it's not an iPhone."

That may be true. But the ads might still feel like they're for a Windows Phone.

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.