The iPhone 5 and the Horrible Power of Hype

Excitement is what makes life worth living–you know, the kind of joy that you experience when falling in love, having your first child…and getting your grubby little hands on Apple’s iPhone5.

Of course you’ve heard that Apple debuted the latest version of the iPhone this week amid a global carnival of hype. Hype is a very powerful tool in PR strategies; in fact, hype is so formidable that it can make intelligent, normal people delude themselves into believing in a reality that doesn’t exist.

Jimmy Kimmel proved this point by asking pedestrians to evaluate the new iPhone 5 and then handing them an iPhone 4S. Watch the video–It’s hilarious.

To PR professionals, however, this video is a chilling reminder of how desperately consumers want to be part of the Apple experience; to be part of the “cool club.” It’s exciting: the anticipation; the rumors; the art of the tease. We’re going to love the new iPhone, we promise–just give it to us. Now.

It’s amazing how far society has come. Technology was once known as the domain of geeks, and geeks weren’t attractive women with careers in Hollywood; they were pimply dudes who rarely left their basements to see the light of day–you know, the type of people we all work for today. The rise of technology has rendered anyone who doesn’t “get it” a pariah. Your grandmother probably has an iPad, and we think that’s pretty cool.

But hype, in addition to being powerful, can also be dangerous—particularly when a product doesn’t live up to expectations. Will the iPhone 5 satisfy the lofty demands of an adoring but easily dispirited public? We can only wait and see.

Still, the future looks bright for Apple from a PR perspective. As the first gentleman in the video above said of the iPhone 5 (while holding an iPhone 4S in his hands): “Oh, it’s way better.”

And we would have said the same thing. It’s that exciting.