Tag Archives: Diversity

Apple Changing Direction With Celebrities in Ads? That’s Funny…

Often, our memories escape us when thinking about our beloved brands.  Certainly, some commercials and jingles that we’ve seen for brands will be etched clearly in our memories.  For others, that might not be the case.  Perhaps that’s why – as Apple’s better-than-expected quarterly earnings announcement continued the upward climb of its stock price - the buzz of discontent with the star-studded iPhone 4S commercials is reaching a crescendo.  In a couple of instances, I’ve even seen people lamenting that Steve Jobs must be turning in his grave with this supposed about-face. The funny thing is that they’re lamenting the use of celebrities in Apple ads, as if they’ve never been used before, when they’ve been doing so all along.

Perhaps the biggest concern for people is the use of Zooey Deschanel in a rainy day commercial showcasing the Siri product. One of the more succinct critiques abounding can be found on the Death + Taxes blog. I actually think the spot goes along with her established character and almost seems like a co-brand for her television show, THE NEW GIRL. I was a little more wierded out by the use of Samuel L. Jackson in another commercial – where he was using the assistance of Siri for gazpacho. Perhaps it is still within his “character” too, but his “brand” is emblazoned in my mind as bearing guns and dropping plenty of F bombs.

But, while Apple has set itself up well recently as a series of products for the everyman and made its largest statement with its ground-breaking 1984 commercial, they do have a history of using celebrities to pitch their wares.

They have ranged from the iconic musicians (U2, Eminem, Bob Dylan, etc.) in silhouette for the iPod release, to the celebrity as “A Mac” against the PC (Justin Long – pre Barrymore relationship and starring roles), and even “actor as geek” (Jeff Goldblum explaining simplicity of the iMac – funny to see phone jack for modem…) On a different note, but somewhat related: While doing the research for this, I even found a commercial for the Apple Lisa product featuring Kevin Costner before he became famous.

William Wei of Business Insider put together a 60 second history of Apple’s use of Celebrities in their ads. Does it say something about the company or brand that we can think that their history does not rely on celebrity if Goldblum was used and the iPod campaign was a little groundbreaking in itself? Check out the video to get caught up on their history.

As a brand, it is something to weigh when people have certain expectations of not just your products, but the way you market them. I think what sets Apple so far apart in this realm of “confusion” about celebrity usage is the fact that they have done such varied campaigns over the years. From groundbreaking TV ad creative to groundbreaking online advertising (remember the ESPN.com page that shifted and broke apart as a game was played on the iPhone a number of years ago? Their recent billboards around big cities show only an iPad and a finger reaching out to touch it.

Apple found itself in trouble a number of years ago when their computers were reaching only 3% of the market – in part because it was relying most heavily on the design and graphics community.  Since they have really broadened their product offering and communications to enable use by many different kinds of people in many ways, the change has been evident in their stock rising about $600 per share.

Are these celebrity spots the exclusive way they will move forward in the future? Probably not.  Will every Apple marketing product be fantastic? I would be shocked. If you look at the wealth of campaign elements for the iPhone 4S and Siri, they have had more annoying spots (remember the Rock God one?) than the better ones that show many more good reasons to have Siri (when it works.)

The key is, they keep trying different things and are seemingly able to hit where they need to hit.  For that reason, I can’t see Steve Jobs turning over in his grave.  I just think its funny that such a large number of Apple lovers would think so.

Media Diversity Leads To Event Status

With studies coming out from firms like Knowledge Network and forecasts from the likes of Brian Wieser (a former ad-industry exec now with Pivotal Research Group,) the challenges and opportunities in media planning are coming to the forefront.  In what has been much of a siloed or “either/or” proposition has become more clearly a matter of diversity in media platforms and the strategic planning of those campaigns.

With economy, platform, audience and cost shifts, media planning is not a standard or static playing field.  To even specify standard media percentage splits across multiple campaigns doesn’t really make much sense anymore.  From a planning perspective, it might have been easier before digital forms of media came into play, but that certainly doesn’t mean it is more cost-effective.  Likewise, it is not always the best decision to do away with the old to jump in with the new.

This nuanced thinking is effectively spelled out in David Goetzl’s MediaPost TV Blog about Knowledge Network’s research on the role of Social Media in launching new shows.  Essentially, networks should not shift away from magazine inserts or beach flyovers to social media just yet.  With roughly 30% of 13-to-54 year-olds saying “positive comments” from online-only friends made them more interested in a new show, 25% saying that a Facebook presence made them more interested in a show and 15% saying that trending on Twitter has a similar effect, Social Media is a component but should not be thought of as the only necessity.  It seems they like their friends, but trust reviewers even more with 44% of social media users finding that positive reviews from established television reviewers increased their intent to view.

All the pieces play a part from social to OOH to Print to on-Air promos.  It is unfortunate that some studios or networks think that attempting an all or nothing test on any release or premiere because it is naive to think that one platform can move the needle as effectively as a well-tuned diverse campaign can.

Brian Wieser’s outlook on Ad Spending for next year further lays out the challenges that block the diversity that is needed to be more effective – both in cost and reach:

“Simply put, in scarce times, marketers are concentrating their budgets among their primary medium (often network TV for large brands seeking awareness) and a secondary medium (often digital platforms for traditional brand marketers, who typically pursue engagement-based outcomes among a subset of the population who are aware of their brand attributes),” he writes. “In general, we expect to see national mass media continuing to gain share at the expense of local mass media. But direct media should continue to grow faster than mass media.”

Of course it is considered to be important to have a primary and secondary medium, but they don’t always have to be the same.  With smart planning, those media mixes can and should be massaged based on product, release, seasonality, competition and more.  Though it might not have that CEO-WOW-Inducing-buzz-placement that many executives resort to, it is wrong to silo traditional media and new media as there is becoming an ever-thinner line between the two and strategic diversity will become the norm – not the exception.

The goal of all campaigns is to make the product or release be thought of as the thing to do or buy.  That “event” status is helped by all of the pieces put together.  Even with the strongest social campaign, it will not reach the anticipated crescendo without media (and PR) running on all cylinders and vice-versa.  With the diagrams of the social media environment floating around, they are even remis in not including other forms of media. Even if it is more challenging to plan, media diversity will always lead to a better result.

Chandelier by Nadine Spencer