Apple’s Marketing is at it Again with iPhone 4 and FaceTime

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By: Hillel Fuld

Apple is undergoing quite possibly its largest PR disaster in its history. The new iPhone 4 has had stains on many displays, major reception issues that Apple handled quite poorly, and even an iPhone 4 explosion incident. Yet, with all this bad coverage, the iPhone 4 is hands down the most successful Apple product launch ever (1.7 million phones in 3 days).

So how does one explain this? Is it a classic case of “There’s no such thing as bad press?” or is there something else happening here? Well, I guess we will never know what might have been if the whole Gizmodo story never happened, and Steve Jobs had not told his customers that they are holding their iPhones wrong. However, putting this specific product launch aside, there is something much bigger about Apple and their marketing strategy that explains the success of the iPhone 4 and many products before it.

You can debate whether to use a PC or a Mac, you can even debate iPhone VS. Android, but I think most people would agree that Apple is a company that excels at marketing and specifically product launches. One of the most interesting articles I ever read is entitled What Consumer Technology Companies Can Learn from Apple Product Launches and I strongly recommend you read it here.

Additionally, one of my favorite writers, MG Siegler wrote a post on TechCrunch the other day entitled “It’s as if Apple Hired don Draper.” In the post, he talks about how Apple has effectively turned FaceTime, a feature of the new iPhone 4 enabling video calling, into a huge success. The reason this is so amazing is that Apple did nothing new here. Video calling has been available for a decade now and Apple’s version is actually significantly inferior to its competition. As opposed to Nokia phones, Android phones, and even some Windows Mobile phones, FaceTime only works over Wifi and only to other iPhone 4s.

Yet, Apple is focusing all its marketing resources on promoting the iPhone 4 with FaceTime, and all the ads have the same motif. They all manage to play on the emotions of the consumer, whether it is enabling a husband abroad to see his wife, a grandfather to see his new grandchild, a father to see his daughter’s new braces, and the list goes on.

This is nothing new for Apple and they have been making effective emotional ads since as far back as 1984. Whatever the case may be, I am not saying these ads are exclusively responsible for the success of iPhone 4, but I’m pretty sure they don’t hurt it either.

Watch the videos below of Apple campaigns starting with the 1984 advertisement, the original FaceTime commercial and four of Apple’s newest iPhone 4 ads.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Hillel Fuld is a global speaker, entrepreneur, journalist, vlogger, and leading startup advisor. He brings over a decade of marketing experience with leading Israeli and Silicon Valley startups, and currently collaborates with many global brands in an official marketing capacity including Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Huawei, and others.      Hillel covers the dynamic local tech scene for many leading publications including Entrepreneur magazine, Inc, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more.    Hillel has been named Israel’s top marketer, 7th top tech blogger worldwide, has been featured on CNBC, Inc, and was dubbed by Forbes as “The Man Transforming Startup Nation into Scale-up Nation”.       Hillel has hundreds of thousands of followers across the social web and can be found on Twitter at @Hilzfuld. You can learn more about him on his website:


8 thoughts on “Apple’s Marketing is at it Again with iPhone 4 and FaceTime

  1. Isnt it interesting that both the strongly disputed Steve Jobs emails and the later exploding iPhone story both originated from the same BGR website?

  2. The geeks don’t get it. These FaceTime ads are not Apple selling the iPhone to prospective buyers. These ads are aimed at existing iPhone owners. They show iPhone owners the advantages of putting their loved ones on a family plan, and upgrading everyone to the iPhone 4.

    When the telephone was first invented, phones were sold in pairs, typically between a home and office so that the owner could keep in touch with the family while at the office (and in touch with the business while at home). It wasn’t until the invention of the switchboard that you could a phone could be used to call more than one other phone; and even then, it was a while before enough people had phones to make that realistic.

    The FaceTime ads are going back to square one. Buy a set of iPhones for your loved ones, and enjoy the intimacy! So what if you can’t use FaceTime with anyone else?

  3. How does one explain the iPhone’s continued success in the face of reports of stained screens, the death grip, and other problems?

    Easy. In actuality, the problems are uncommon. They are being overblown by a sensationalist press and a geek blogger echo chamber of haters that latches onto any bad news about Apple and hypes it to the nth degree.

    Despite reports of problems, the first few million iPhone 4 customers are overwhelmingly delighted. People are NOT marching back en mass to Apple stores to return faulty phones. As a prospective customer, who would you believe?… A blogger with an agenda, or personal testimony from satisfied friends.

    Apple’s emotional ads certainly generate interest, but good word of mouth ultimately makes the sale. Finally, superb ownership experience generates ongoing loyalty.

  4. It’s not Apple’s marketing that sells Apple products; it’s the great products themselves! Apple’s products are so loved; the media supplies Apple with more press time than any company could ever hope to afford to buy. Apples goes the extra mile with attention to the smallest detail and the excellent build quality of all its products. The public and the media have responded to this. Apple products just work and they work well. They are intuitive and easy to use. They are beautiful and feel incredible to touch and hold. Their marketing helps too, but not nearly as much as the products themselves.

  5. Similar to what Mike said, it’s a combination of Apple’s excellent, excellent emotional marketing and their very ‘average user’ products. An iPhone may lack some of the performance of a Droid or BB, but most ‘average’ users will be so excited about how simple it is to look at pictures! go online! video call! play games! that they will come back to Apple again and again. Apple makes easy, fun products – and that, combined with the fun marketing, makes for sales.

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