Apple Hoped for Lightning . . . Got a Lightning Bug . . . or Maybe a Stink Bug

Wherein I weigh in on the infamous new Apple ad. One that generated an (internet) firestorm of negative opinion-ification. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the ad.

A lot of people have voiced strong, negative reactions to Apple’s new ad for the iPad Pro. Some, like this guy, see it as Apple accidentally (or perhaps brazenly) revealing it’s inherent evilness. But I don’t think that’s it at all. Yes, I’ve frequently muttered to my wife that Apple seems to hate its customers. And many of its baffling product development decisions seem to validate that view. But . . .

As a longtime advertising and marketing professional, it’s quite easy for me to imagine how this concept first emerged. What’s harder to fathom is how this ad got green-lit, produced (at great cost), and released. Let me explain.

I’m reminded of the old quote, usually attributed to Mark Twain: “The difference between the right word, and the ALMOST-right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” In this case, it’s an ALMOST-right metaphor.

The assignment for the agency creatives was clearly to highlight how THIN the new iPad Pro is . . . along with illustrating the many creative tools contained within that “thinness.”

Thus emerged the concept of putting a bunch of other items: musical instruments, paints, game consoles, and 3D representations of emojis . . . in a giant smasher press.

When all of those things are smashed flat . . . then the press opens up and . . .

We see a shiny new, wafer-thin iPad Pro.

What the creatives didn’t factor in was the visceral human reaction of distress of seeing a lot of beloved and familiar objects crushed to smithereens. Punctuating the generalized horror of it all was a closeup of that 3D smiley face emoji’s eyes bugging out when the smasher began to descend upon it. Thus the backlash.

But what if . . . What if instead of a press crushing stuff . . . it was some sort of suction machine that, through the magic of CGI, sucked all of those items into a slim, trim iPad screen.

It would have illustrated the same selling point, without traumitizing people with the sight of beloved objects being pulverized.

In other words, it was ALMOST the right metaphor. And thus a very expensive mistake.