Apple Not Pleased with Fake iPhone Ad from Ellen

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Ellen Degeneres raised Apple’s ire recently for a fake iPhone ad she ran on her morning talk show, Ellen. In the ad, Ms. Degeneres talks about how much she loves her iPhone, but makes mistakes while trying to text her wife, Portia de Rossi. Apple complained to the show host, telling her they thought the joke made the iPhone look hard to use.

In the fake ad (which is included in the video segment below), Ms. Degeneres brags in a voice-over that she can do so much with an iPhone, for instance, “I can text.” She then taps the Google Maps application, stumbles around, brings up the text client, sends a couple of accidental messages to her wife, comments that she didn’t remember her fingers being so thick, and otherwise clearly makes fun of herself for not being a big techie.

After the fake ad played, she said, “It’s funny, right? I thought it was funny. A bunch of people thought it was funny. You know who didn’t think it was funny? [audience laughs] Yeah, the people at Apple didn’t think it was so funny. [laughter] They thought I made it look like it’s hard to use, and I just want to say that I’m sorry if I made it look like the iPhone is hard to use.”

She added, “It’s not hard to use. I have an iPhone. Portia has an iPhone. I just learned how to text on an iPhone. It’s the only phone that I can text on. And I love it. I love my iPad, I love my iPod. I love IHOP, if you have anything to do with that. [laughter] So, everyone at Apple, Steve Jobs, Mr. Macintosh (laughs). I apologize. I’m sorry. I love this stuff.”

Apple has often been a sponsor of Ellen.

So far, mainstream mentions of this have come down squarely on Apple for not having a sense of humor.

Video segment from Ellen.

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Oh lighten up apple. That’s a hoot.

Dave Hamilton

Jeez… Apple really deserves a “Lighten up, Francis!”

Dave Hamilton

Too funny, geoduck. I think we wrote our posts simultaneously!



How can a company so marketing-savvy have so many back-to-back PR black eyes lately? Geez, I agree 100%: Lighten up, Apple.


I’m outraged! Ellen’s commercial is degrading and makes a mockery of people with glasses and people with fat fingers! Go Apple!

(I hope Apple’s the only one who doesn’t recognize sarcasm too, or this post is going to get me in lots of trouble.)


This is when this window needs a code for GIANT.


Dave Hamilton

Perhaps I should have included this in my initial reply. Lighten Up, Francis (on YouTube)

Lee Dronick

It was funny in an Ellen sort of way. She does have a point with the Send button in Messages so close to the O and P keys, I have accidently sent a number of messages. I can have a parallax problem typing on the iPhone and have to use Kentucky windage hit the correct key.

Do we know for sure that Apple complained to Ellen about her bit, or was today’s bit part of the bit?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I’m surprised nobody has come at this from the advertising angle as Apple is blitzing popular primetime and daytime television with its iPhone ads. I’m also surprised that most just assume Ellen was “sincere” with her apology. I saw it as an, “ok, here you go appholes” move on Ellen’s part. Apple probably expressed dissatisfaction privately because they advertise and then Ellen decided that if they were going to express it, she was going to apologize and make them look lame. Which was too easy and worked too well.

If you follow my line of thinking, it’s not so much that Apple needs to lighten up, but that Apple needs to not try to control the message all the time. Apple just got brushed back and pwned by Ellen. It’s not that they’re bad at controlling the message. It’s that Apple can’t control the message and needs to accept their lumps just like everyone else.


Actually, I thought it was pretty funny. Oh, and my kids each have an iPod Touch and I can’t use that keyboard for the life of me…


Strange; they had a sense of humour when they made the “I’m a Mac ...  I’m a PC” ads.

Laurie Fleming

?ok, here you go appholes?

Word of the day! Apple should hire you as VP of Wit. They definitely need one.

oh too funny

A lesbian with fat fingers.  Imagine that.


Oh, and my kids each have an iPod Touch and I can?t use that keyboard for the life of me?

Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, I guess. I have an iPod Touch, and it works very well for me by thumb-typing in landscape mode. On the other hand, I tried out an iPad the other day and I could not get a handle on it. Maybe ‘cause my brain wants to treat it like a physical keyboard, and I kept accidentally touching other keys. I don’t know. Would definitely have to retrain my brain to make use of it. raspberry



If you follow my line of thinking, it?s not so much that Apple needs to lighten up, but that Apple needs to not try to control the message all the time. Apple just got brushed back and pwned by Ellen. It?s not that they?re bad at controlling the message. It?s that Apple can?t control the message and needs to accept their lumps just like everyone else.

Is it bad that what [Bosco] said made perfect sense to me?

(Kudos to anyone geek enough to get the reference. Oh, and I do truly agree with Bosco on this one.)


Am I the only who thought of Ellen Feiss after reading the headline?


Personally, I feel Apple’s response was far more negative and harmful than Ellen’s bit ever could be. And everybody knows that most everything that Ellen does in that light is pure humor. And only that.

If I was that sensitive, I would completely psychotic . . . that somebody is going to take a bite out of the other side of my apple.

WHOA! Did you see that. Right there, in the shadows . . . .



AND if Apple is so worried about their reputation, then why aren’t they bothered by AT&T?


One problem might be the use of the Apple logo, i.e., a trademark infringement. Common language trademarks are often used in parodies, but logos and other visual trademarks can be a very different matter. Many companies will vigorously pursue any infringement of their trademarks.

See this article: Trademark Parody

Edit: Here’s another article: Parody and “Fair Use”

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