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.