When Apple’s “Think Different” campaign came out in 1997, the ads didn’t sell a specific product, but an idea: The company wanted to change the world, just like Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr. and the other “crazy ones.”
It was a clever and successful approach — and one born out of necessity.
Apple needed to “buy some time” for Steve Jobs, who had just returned to the almost-bankrupt company, to come up with some breakthrough new products, TBWA/Media Arts Lab Chairman Lee Clow said at a recent conference. His agency developed “Think Different” along with Apple’s most notable ads since the 1980s.
In a way, Apple’s latest commercial, which debuted yesterday at the developers conference, needs to accomplish the same thing: Buy the company some time.
Amid an aging product line and fierce competition from Google’s Android and Samsung, the only new products on sale now following CEO Tim Cook’s keynote yesterday are MacBook Airs and AirPort wireless routers. The new Mac Pro and iOS 7 won’t be out until fall. None of that, or talk of Apple getting into watches and TVs, will slow down the Cupertino company’s rivals.
Similar to “Think Different,” the newest ad, which was also developed by Media Arts Lab, re-introduces the brand in a highly emotional way. Although products are shown, they take a backseat to the reactions of people using them. The ad’s emphasis is on the experience.
And then there’s a telling line in the narration: “We spend a lot of time on a few great things.”
We’ll see if it’s worth the wait. If the “few great things” don’t live up to the expectations of consumers and investors, no ad campaign will help a brand that not so long ago seemed infallible.