Full disclosure: I’m an Apple brand fan, tying this on my MacBook Pro. This month, Apple has launched the iPhone 11. Let’s be honest: smartphones have reached the “death by incrementalism” stage. Every year, it is becoming harder and harder to convince consumers to invest another $1,000 to upgrade their phone. This year, I read 20-30 articles to try and understand the difference. I’m an iPhone consumer, and I’m due for a new one. Nearly every article focused on having a better camera. And, this year’s iPhone launch event in early September, focused around on the improved camera.
Here is a typical article:
Let’s breakdown a potential creative brief for the iPhone 11
Who is the consumer Target? Highly connected, fast-paced people who live in a mobile world ,yet are still frustrated by the annoying complexities of technology.
What is the consumer insight that will enable us to connect? “I would never admit that I live my life through my phone, but the reality is I do. I need my phone to be able to keep up with the things I see my friends doing.”
What is the main benefit? The iPhone 11 helps you feel smarter when it comes to technology, so you can do more in your life with your search, social, music, videos, and photos.
What is the reason to believe? The iPhone 11 camera keeps up with your life whether using the tele lens for unbelievable travel photos you will want to show off, the night mode technology when you are out with friends, or the shutter-down video technology which is a perfect fit for social media.
Here's the new iPhone 11 ad
What's wrong with this ad
My first reaction usually speaks to my gut feel.
- There is no consumer in it. Zero insight.
- There is no consumer benefit.
- It’s a product demo, and it’s boring. Plus, it’s 60-seconds.
Let's dissect this iPhone 11 ad as a Marketer
I’ll let the creative directors out there talk about the creativity or lack of creativity. I’m going to assess this ad as a marketer should. As marketers, we never make the ads, but do make the decisions on the ads. I don’t need to be a creative person, but I have to love what creativity can do for my brand. It’s similar to how I live my life. I can’t create the simplest painting of a sailboat, but I can get goosebumps walking through Musée d’Orsay in Paris. I can barely remember jokes, but I sit in the front row of a comedy club, laughing my ass off. As a brand leader, it is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all. While we don’t make the product, we don’t sell the product or create the ads, we do touch everything that goes into the marketplace and we make every decision. Let’s talk about how:
In my book, I go through the principles of the ABC’s model, with examples for each principle. I use the Attention-Branding-Communication-Stickiness model as a great checklist to ensure the ad will be successful. When judging advertising, the most important thing I look for is to ensure the creative idea within the ad that drives the attention, tells the brand story, communicates the main benefit and sticks in the consumer’s mind. When you see a story, device, copy, or a visual that does not fit with the delivery, then you have a red flag. You run the risk that the creativity of the ad works against your objectives. Here are four questions to ask:
Does this take a creative risk to earn the attention of consumers within the cluttered media world? Is there something creatively different from what consumers expect, does it entertain, take advantage of the media, and is it shareable for consumers to influence others?
- None of the above. It’s a boring ad, highly safe, feels like I’ve seen this type of garbage 1000s of times.
Brand Link: Low/Medium
- This ad follows the myths of brand link of “The more often you show the brand, the higher brand link scores.” This has the iPhone front and center, but it’s a product demo, with very little creativity or story around the brand.
- This ad uses an extremely simple demonstration, but it’s all about a feature, not a benefit. Whenever you focus on a feature, you leave it up to the consumer to determine the functional or emotional benefit. In a cluttered media world, consumers move on before figuring it out. And creatively, it’s not an extreme demonstration or a powerful visual. It’s quite dull. The main message is around durability and water proof? Anyone else notice that every object is soft, whether it’s soft food or spongy toys. What about showing real life?
- I am fine if this is a one-off tactical ad for the iPhone 11 launch. However, it uses none of the creative assets Apple has used. There is no assets it will add for the future.
Gut instincts reaction
Do you love what the ad has the potential to do? Does the ad match the brief? Will you be proud of this ad as your legacy?
- No, this does not even feel like an Apple ad. There are no consumers, the demo is boring and this will do nothing to drive sales. If there is no real functional benefit, then go more emotional. This ad is emotionless.
Does the ad match up to the objective of the brief, from your brand plan? Does it achieve the desired consumer response? Will it have an expected market impact and brand performance?
- I wrote my own brief above that focuses on the improved camera. The waterproof and durability have been known flaws for the iPhone the past few years. Sure, this ad closes gaps, but only to catch up to competitors. I would equate these features to “Free Parking” for a restaurant. You aren’t going to build your entire communication around free parking, are you?
Builds consumer bond
- Zero connection, complete failure. First, there is no consumer in the ad. The choices for things flung at the camera look more focused on 30-something parents, worried that plastic toys or food will destroy their phone. There is no emotion in this ad that will help solidify the bond with consumers.
Fits with brand
- As mentioned a few times, this is a feature, not even a benefit. This does nothing to speak to the Apple brand idea of “we simplify technology so that everyone can be part of the future.” The ad does not fit the tone of Apple, who should deliver tones around optimism and freedom.
- There is no mention of benefits, the two features around durability and waterproof might catch up with competitors, but certainly doesn’t separate the brand. I don’t see anything ownable from a strategy or execution view.
Why not show how the new iPhone 11 can fit into the consumer's life?
This type of thinking is in my Beloved Brands book
Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze
- You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies.
- To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept.
- For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans.
- To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics,
- I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.