Apple’s HomePod Video Ad is in a Creative Rut

Apple HomePod ad.

Former Apple marketing guru, Ken Segall, has some mild concern about Apple’s adherence to its legacy values. That is, avoidance of the safe and predictable. I have to agree in the case of the HomePod. With an informed and delicate approach, author Segall analyzes “Apple’s case of dance fever.

Apple HomePod ad.
Image credit: Apple

The reason I’m a little dubious about Apple’s approach is because of the price point of the HomePod. Sure, iPods in the old days were also expensive, but the prospect of having “A thousand songs in your pocket” negated the cost. Quickly, lower cost iPods rolled out. The perceived value was worth the cost. Just as with the recent iPhone X.

But when so many people, including the very young, have an iPhone and Apple Music, what’s the allure of an expensive device that sits on a coffee table?

It seems to me that, for lack of a better vehicle to deliver the message about the HomePod, Apple punted and fell back to the methods of old rather than address the new, different HomePod buyer mentality.

Author Segall walks us through the history of Apple music and dance advertising to argue his thesis.

I’m not sick of the dance idea because I’m anti-dance. I’m sick of it because I’m pro-creativity—and what I’ve loved about Apple advertising throughout history is its ability to shake things up, and go where it hasn’t gone before.

What do you think? Does Apple’s 4m:01s video he points to sell you on the HomePod? Considering the type of product the HomePod wants to be and the type of person who would eagerly embrace it, is Apple’s dance crazy HomePod ad the right way to go? Or does this new class of product from Apple deserve a new kind of thinking about how to reach an audience?

Next Page: The News Debris For The Week of March 5th. Google’s education and enterprise efforts paying off.

4 thoughts on “Apple’s HomePod Video Ad is in a Creative Rut

  • John:

    Some very interesting reads. Just a few quick thoughts.

    Since you asked, I understand Segall’s point about Apple playing it safe, while the corporate culture is one of risk taking. He has a point, although I’m not certain that it is well-aimed. Companies and corporations worldwide are frequently counselled by agencies to emphasise ‘branding’, which goes beyond protecting the brand to reiterating themes that conjure that brand and become an immediate association, particularly for busy people on the go who might not be able to watch an entire advert, but get a glimpse and then think of that company. This is more about protecting hard-won mindshare aka ‘Remember me’. The advertising universe is littered with beautiful and expensive adverts whose company, product and use case are equally vague, sometimes because a well known company ventures something new, but misfires and either leaves viewers confused, unmoved or turned off. People can relate to dance, although such adverts largely leave me, how to put this, unmoved; but I’m atypical. With adverts, assuming that they are target appropriate, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – sales metrics during the ad’s run. Data.

    Regarding Huawei’s smartphone and the US government intelligence agencies warning not to purchase it, I just made a relevant comment regarding state actors on Bryan’s Facebook piece so won’t comment further, other than to say that anyone who does not recognise that cyber warfare has begun and is afoot is not paying attention, or that authoritarian actors will not exploit opportunities to gain tactical advantage (particularly information) is being naive. Of course, such actions will always be plausibly denied, commingled with reciprocal accusations and sanctions against democratic states and their industries, with retaliation and disinformation part and parcel. Welcome to 21st Century warfare – and that’s even before hostilities go hot.

    The superconducting properties of graphene are indeed exciting, but these tantalising observations require further study. These studies on the mechanism of conductivity and the like will be easier to conduct (no pun intended) on graphene than on the cuprates for all the reasons stated, but ‘high temperature superconductivity’ if proved to be true has profound implications for the industry and consumers.

    The ‘state of Mac malware’ is a worthwhile read. Belief in the invulnerability of any computer system is faith-based and irrational. Malware is being written for the Mac, and any system can be breached by a determined, knowledgeable and well-resourced actor (the banking, entertainment, retail and intelligence industries, to name but a recent few). One cannot have an impenetrable system, however the goal for the private consumer should be to make themselves a comparatively harder and therefore less attractive target than the low hanging fruit of most devices.

    As for Siri, it’s not surprising that Norman Winarsky is both surprised and disappointed with the current state of Siri’s capabilities. He acknowledges that Apple took Siri in a very different direction from the one he and colleagues originally conceived. As a layperson, I believe that developing a capable, robust but secure AI is complex, and fraught with known and unanticipated disaster. None of the current AI products performs in an unambiguously superior league to its competitors; each has limitations and some have important vulnerabilities for the end user. Given what’s at stake, namely our security and safety, I prefer a measured approach grounded in state of the art security over any alternative.

  • The purpose of this ad is to demonstrate the use case for HomePod in a fun, whimsical way. I think it succeeds brilliantly. It is a cross between the old silhouette iPod ads and the more recent Apple Christmas ads.

    Clearly, the use case for the HomePod is as a 21st century version of the home stereo for music lovers. Anyone who loves to sit in a darkened room and immerse themselves in their favorite music can easily relate to this ad.

    I always Spike Jones’ work and FKA Twigs is a terrific dancer. The ad reminded me of Spike Jone’s music video for the song “Weapon of Choice” by Fatboy Slim. That video followed (an initially scary, weathered looking) Christopher Walken as he gleefully dances his way through a shopping mall.

    Both the new HomePod ad and Spike Jones’ “Weapon of Choice” video show the juxtaposition of a person’s inner and outer lives. Specifically, people who may seem world weary, may in fact lead vibrant joyful inner lives. By gently encouraging viewers to avoid ‘judging a book by its cover’, both pieces are somewhat subversive.

  • If Google wants any chance of dethroning or at the very least be on a level-playing with Microsoft, it needs to dethrone Office / Office 365. That’s a huge uphill battle.

  • From the post about the US warning about the new smartphone from Huawei:

    “We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” FBI Director Chris Wray testified during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in mid-February. Wray also said that the devices give Chinese smartphone makers access or even “control” over the U.S. telecommunications system and “provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information” and “conduct undetected espionage.”

    Two points:
    1. Poll after poll shows the party in control of the US doesn’t share the values of most Americans.
    2. Google software also “provides the capacity to…steal information” and “”conduct undetected espionage.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.