On Apple’s new ads

I tweeted this seconds after I saw the first of Apple’s three new ads:

I’ve held off writing about it till now because I knew my tweet was a knee-jerk reaction. I reacted similarly to the Celebrities Using Siri ads, yet they’ve grown on me. Apple is probably not, as I put it, “in trouble.” I needed some time to consider these ads more deeply.

Here we are a few days later, and the spots still don’t sit well with me. The difference now is that I know what’s bothering me. It isn’t just that the ads aren’t good – though they aren’t. It’s that this event was predicted with uncanny accuracy almost a year ago.

When Steve Jobs stepped down from his position as CEO, the Applesphere was ablaze with cynicism, much of it in my opinion unfounded. Yet among the thousands of defeatist pieces written around that time, one stood out to me as alarmingly level-headed and rational – prophetic, even.

On August 30, 2011, John Gruber linked to an article by Bob Hoffman (aka the Ad Contrarian), CEO of an ad firm in San Francisco, who warns:

The product pipeline will take years to screw up. But the ad pipeline can be screwed up in no time.

About a year from now, with Jobs in the background, the knuckleheads at Apple (there are knuckleheads everywhere) will have a chance to get their sweaty hands on the advertising.

He goes on to explain that “creeping brandism” and greater complexity in Apple’s ads, among other factors (which you should read about in the article itself – I’m not going to reproduce the entire thing here, despite the temptation), will be “early indicator[s] of whether people without vision and taste are moving in at Apple.”


Nearly eleven months later – pretty damn close to the date he predicted – Hoffman’s conjecture is proving to be prescient. I await future campaigns from Apple with trepidation, and unless Hoffman is proved wrong soon (that is, unless Apple’s next campaign is a successful one), this “Genius” could foreshadow turbulent times down the road for Apple’s products as well.