SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

Apple polishes already sterling image with iPod commercials

One of the most striking recent examples of entertainment looking to sports media to generate business is the remarkable work by Apple Computer on behalf of its iPod mobile music device. Featured in a wide range of sports and general-market media, Apple has launched a TV and print campaign for the iPod that represents the best of what advertising can be.

Apple's tradition of using sports in its advertising is storied.

The company launched its seminal Macintosh computer with "1984," a commercial aired just once, during the 1984 Super Bowl. That effort later was voted by members of the advertising industry as the greatest ad of all time. Thirteen years later, Apple featured "The Greatest," Muhammad Ali, in its graphically powerful "Think Different" campaign.

The spots are simple, vibrant and potent.
Flash forward to 2003: With a less intellectually inspiring but no less visceral campaign, Apple is again providing a lesson in how to create great advertising.

The premise is simple. Young, hip (for lack of a better term) people dancing in black silhouette, in front of vibrant purple, green, red and gold screens. Their bodies are connected to their music by tiny white headphones and the now well-recognized rectangular white iPod device.

The iPod, with its unique shape and ability to store thousands of songs in a device not much bigger than your average PDA, immediately became the industry's "in" device. But for months, Apple made it available to Mac users only, leaving it incompatible with the Windows operating systems that much of the computer world uses.

Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles
Creative directors: Duncan Millner, Eric Grunbaum
Art director: Susan Alinsangan
Copywriter: Tom Kraemer
Director: Dave Meyers
Client: Apple Computer, Cupertino, Calif.
When Apple launched its critically acclaimed iTunes Store in May, the problem of being limited to the Mac world was again in full display. Millions of songs were legally downloaded, but Apple continued to fight the numbers game of relatively few Mac users in a Windows world.

Finally, in September, Apple launched a Windows-ready version of software for iTunes. So, for Apple, that simple message had to find its way into the public consciousness.

Apple's answer to that challenge is captured in the new advertising spots in the body copy, which is presented in reverse type over colored graphic screens embedded within the TV commercials, without voice-over: "iPod. Mac or PC."

The spots conclude with the familiar Apple logo. So straightforward. So right.

Dave Meyers, perhaps the best-of-breed working in music videos, directed the TV work. Meyers took home the top prize at the recent MTV Video Music Awards when the video he directed for Missy Elliott's "Work It" won Video of the Year.

Meyers has also worked with Pink, Mick Jagger, Aerosmith, Creed and Shakira, among others. His understanding of music video, combined with great tunes from The Black Eyed Peas and Jet, lends these spots tremendous appeal and "street" credibility.

With the potent combination of a great device, great software, Windows compatibility and stellar advertising, expect the iPod to rack up big holiday-season sales.

James H. Harris (jharris@sportsbusinessjournal.com) is CEO of the Chicago-based strategic marketing consultancy ThoughtStep Inc.

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Apple, Marketing and Sponsorship, MTV

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