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Former Member

Apple ads have been popular since the first Macintosh Super Bowl commercial in 1984. The ads reached their peak during the famous “Get a Mac” campaign from 2006-2009 which spawned a cottage industry of clever parodies of Apple products.

The recent release of the iPhone 5s and 5c has predictably launched a new round of user-generated ads befitting of the most valuable brand in the world.

While Apple’s commercials have been “must-see TV” for years, my favorite Apple ad is one which few people have seen. It is specifically targeted at marketers and gives valuable advice in an entertaining 3-minute video. Let’s revisit it and examine the marketing lessons.

Two caveats:

  1. This is technically not an ad. It’s an internal video made by Microsoft of all companies as a way to “educate their marketers about the pitfalls of packaging and branding”.
  2. The video was made in 2005 but is still relevant today and in my opinion should be required viewing for any marketer.

Like most classic Apple ads, it's funny but has an important and crystal-clear message. Let’s take a look at the video and what it teaches us:

Lessons for Marketers:

  • Simplify Your Message: Don't clutter your message with dozens of bullet points and calls to action. At a certain level it just becomes noise to the customer and no message will get through to them.
  • Don’t Ignore the “Out of Box Experience”: For many products, the out of box experience (OOBE) is the user’s first impression of your brand. Apple has mastered this to the point that the unboxing of their product has become an event itself. Nailing the OOBE (or the first-use experience for software products) can delight your customers and help define your brand.
  • You Don’t Have to Satisfy Everyone…Just Your Customer: The reason that packaging gets so messy in the first place is because marketers are trying to satisfy so many internal stakeholders. Product Teams, Corporate Partners, Legal, the Brand team and others all want their say in the matter. You saw what the end result is. Marketers need to learn to say no. When in doubt, always focus on the customer experience to help you prioritize and make tradeoff decisions.
  • Work with Great Creatives: This is where the art of marketing makes all the difference. As you saw from the video, just saying “we need to humanize the packaging” is easier said than done. You need creative minds to bring your brand to life and make a connection. It's a lesson that can be applied to any immersive customer experience.

This video is perhaps the definitive example of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). We should always keep it mind when designing anything - from marketing materials to product UI to PowerPoint slides.

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