Branding, Culture

A Rotting Apple?

Steve Jobs is dead.

If you needed proof, just look at the latest advertising campaign from Apple.

It never would have happened under Jobs.

First, it betrays the fundamental Apple brand, which was built on innovative products that delight and amaze consumers, and permanently disrupt the marketplace, from PCs to cell phones.  But this campaign is not about a new innovative product, it’s about a way of producing new innovative products.

Which is what one talks about when one DOESN’T have any new innovative products to release.

The iPhone5 was something of a disappointment, in that it didn’t mark a significant step forward from the previous model.  But now the innovation pipeline seems to have stalled completely.  So let’s tell America how wonderful that pipeline is!

And second, even as a corporate branding campaign, it’s a deeply flawed strategy.  The campaign is actually focused around the company’s most notable negative, and in the course of doing so, spotlights that very issue – the origins of that device we all hold in our hands.  Because while they may well be “designed” by people in California, Apple’s vulnerability is that they’re made by people in China, working in horrendous conditions.

SNL nailed it in December with this brutal Tech Talk segment.

So the geniuses at Apple, realizing that Samsung (Korea)  and HTC (Taiwan) are gaining market share, decide that what they really need is a little red, white and blue sprinkled over their phones.  “OK, it’s not innovative any more, but at least it’s made in America…….except not really, it’s just designed by well paid people in America and then made by poorly paid people in wretched factories in China.”

Don’t you feel better about Apple products?

A good corporate reputation is a necessary but not sufficient part of a consumer’s decision to buy.  And if the product is innovative enough, its not even necessary.

Having failed to sustain innovation, Apple is now trying to compete (badly) on reputation.

Steve Jobs is spinning in his grave.


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