September 28, 1997: Apple debuts its iconic “Think different” television commercial, aligning the troubled computer company with some of history’s most famous freethinking rebels.
The most famous tagline in Apple history, “Think different” doesn’t just articulate how Cupertino differs from its competitors. It also highlights how Apple, under the leadership of Steve Jobs, will forge a future far different from its floundering, money-losing days of the early 1990s.
The latest rumors about the next-generation Apple Watch indicate it might come with LTE cellular data in a slick new design. But Apple Watch already offers data connectivity via iPhone, and Cupertino’s marketing tends to focus on benefits, not features. So how will Apple craft a new product story around built-in cellular?
My guess is it will all be about replacing the need for a very old technology: pockets. Apple Watch Series 3 will move all the contents of our pockets into the cloud.
April 18, 1996: Apple unveils a massive $15 million promotional tie-in for the Mission: Impossible movie starring Tom Cruise.
Designed to promote the PowerBook, which Cruise uses in the spy flick, the marketing campaign comes at a particularly bad time. With Apple attempting to climb back into the black after reporting its largest quarterly loss ever, the company is in the middle of trying to perform its very own impossible mission. And that’s just the start of the problems.
At this week’s “Let us loop you in” keynote, Apple revealed a major shift in its smartwatch strategy. Tim Cook tried to dress it up by announcing new Apple Watch bands and a price drop, but the most significant aspect was what he did not say: There was no mention of third-party Watch apps.
After Monday’s keynote, Apple updated its website with a new marketing proposition that represents a tacit acknowledgment that, right now, Apple Watch is only good for three things: notifications, fitness and health.
What happened to the idea that there is an app for everything?
When Steve Jobs was around, Apple’s product events were about the products, and little else. Yeah, Jobs would often start with corporate issues, but he usually boasted about how the company was absolutely crushing it.
By contrast, the first 25 minutes of Monday’s event — almost half of the hour-long presentation — focused on things only tangentially related to Apple products. Cook and his lieutenants discussed government snooping, privacy, recycling, the environment, renewable energy, creating platforms for sustaining customers’ health — and even protecting Chinese yaks.
Jobs used to touch on issues like these, but under Cook, they’ve taken center stage. Cook has turned Apple’s product events into showcases for corporate responsibility.
Parodies of Jony Ive and Apple’s rarefied advertising are nothing new, but you rarely get to watch a spoof featuring a comedian as talented as Sacha Baron Cohen.
To promote his new movie The Brothers Grimsby, the creator of Ali G, Bruno and Borat recorded a spot-on Apple parody, which shows that — despite the many who have aped it in the past — there’s still mileage in poking some good-natured fun at Apple’s way of selling us on its latest revolutionary products.
These days, Apple is known for its impeccable design sensibilities. Less than 20 years ago, though, that wasn’t the case. Case in point? These awesomely retro, fluorescently hideous in-store demos made to help sell the Macintosh in 1997.