Apple's Manifesto

Apple’s new ‘Designed By Apple’[1] and ‘Our Signature’ ads are garnering a lot of attention — in both positive and negative[2] lights. But what I think people have largely overlooked since John Moltz pointed out that Samsung is/was a client of Ace Metrix (The source often cited when deriding Apple’s latest ads), is that these new spots harken back to Apple’s ‘Here’s To The Crazy Ones’ ad from the late 90s.

Lee Clow, the big dog at Apple’s advertising agency, recently said — rather off-handedly — that “Crazy Ones” was made to ‘buy time’ between Jobs’ re-arrival and the iMac[3], but I sincerely doubt that’s the whole story.

I believe the entire ‘Think Different’ campaign was a manifesto; an anthem; a rallying cry. Apple had rediscovered itself. It had dusted off its original identity and it wanted to let everyone know. It wasn’t just for Apple as so many have claimed — it was also for it’s customers. Apple wanted to let people know that they shouldn’t listen to all the negativity, that good things were coming, and that those things would be decidedly different[4].

I believe these new ads serve the same function. With every two-bit “analyst” crawling out of the woodwork to talk about how Apple is losing it’s cool, or waining in public support, or that innovation at Apple is dead since the death of founder and resurrector, Steve Jobs, it has become time once again to rally the troops.

This is Tim Cook’s Apple. And while it may not have some of Jobs’ alleged design tendencies, it still believes those things it clung to in the late 90s when death was knocking at the door. Apple doesn’t ship a product just for the sake of shipping it[5] — each product has a purpose, it fills a need. And Apple will not be rushed to market before it’s ready. And Apple’s string of successes seem to indicate that they know what they’re doing.

I, for one, love the ads and am excited for the fall.

  1. Apple seems to be drawing a lot of heat about their claim that these products are “Designed by Apple in California” — as though they are trying to draw attention away from their place of manufacture. And while I’ve no doubt that Apple would be pleased if these ads reminded people that much of what they do does not take advantage of China’s manufacturing prowess, I think the emphasis is all wrong. Jason Zimdars put it very well in a piece he wrote back in 2010 (emphasis his):

    [I]t wasn’t “Made by Apple in California,” it was Designed. I can’t think of another company that holds design in higher esteem or even one that touts every product as designed, not made. This might be the best expression of the company’s mission available.

  2. A lot of people are basing their conclusion that these ads are a ‘flop’ on a report by Ace Metrix, a company that numbers Samsung among their clients.
  3. And OS X.
  4. And not just different for different’s sake. Apple took a radical approach to make computers into functionally integrated, simple, and beautiful appliances — in terms of hardware and software.
  5. iPod Socks not withstanding.