By now, you probably have seen the first iPad TV commercial aired during the Oscars. If you missed it, you can watch it here. To those of us who have been following tech news in the past few months, the video didn’t show anything new. In fact, it’s a rather ordinary, formulaic Apple commercial. It’s very similar to the 2007 iPhone launch commercials. I’m not going to talk about the iPad today, instead I want to focus on how Apple markets its products.
Apple’s commercials are effective. In the iPad Ad, the shots are always focused on how YOU would use the iPad. In every shot, you get a clear picture of the user interface and how it operates. On a more subtle note, the commercial shows someone using an iPad on a comfortable couch in an airy living room, just like where you’d be using an iPad. It feels intimate and natural.
More importantly, the effectiveness is not only because it highlights the product, but also serve as a tutorial video. By watching the fingers in the commercial performing swipe, pinch zoom, double tap, the viewers build a familiarity with the iPad even before they ever touch one. I remember the first time I used an iPhone. It felt as if I’d owned one for a while, no instructions needed.
The formula is rather simple:
The background setting provides an airy and soothing feeling. The soundtrack is uplifting but not overwhelming. These two factors establish a good mood.
Maximum clarity on the product and its UI. Show many examples.
Focus on how the product is operated, from a user’s point of view.
Narrated in human language, not technical jargon.
In comparison, most of Apple’s competitors don’t get it when it comes to marketing. I have seen the their commercials and they are forgettable. They simply focus on the wrong things.
Palm Pre watch
In this beautifully choreographed commercial, we see the phone for less than 15 seconds out of the full minute.
Motorola Droid watch
My parents won’t get these geeky insider jabs. Wasting the whole promo ad on acknowledging the dominance of your competitor is a waste of air time. I still don’t know anything about the Droid.
HTC My Touch 3G watch
This one shows some screens, but very briefly. I can’t help to wonder who the star is here. The celebrities or the phone?
Windows Phone 7 Series watch
I think this is a strong contender. However it still lacks the human element. A self-animated device feels very conceptual to me. Ironically, I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s 2019 concept video, which feels a lot more real.
Actually these commercials are not forgettable. I remember the dancers in the open field, the edgy tag lines, and the guy who looks like Fred Durst just fine. One problem: I don’t remember the product. There are so many distractions it’s hard to focus on what they’re trying to advertise. I also don’t feel attached to their products. This is why I love Apple Ads. Regardless of whether or not I buy their products, I feel I’m already familiar with them. The presentation is simple, human, and effective.
When asked why Na’vi women have breasts, since the race isn’t mammal and therefore shouldn’t possess mammaries, James Cameron gave the answer:
Because this is a movie for human people.