Apple’s Frenetic iPad Ads Are Just Plain Annoying

| Analysis

It's one thing to get attention and create a desire for a great product, but Apple's latest, frenetic iPad ads, in my opinion, smack of a baser motive. We can irritate you. So we do.

An iPad is capable of so very much. It can teach, inspire and be a tool for creativity. It's a product that appeals to people in so many ways. That's why tablets are taking off.

Given that the iPad is virtually unlimited its capabilities and the mind of man shows no limits in terms of creativity, one has to ask: how can one present an appealing ad that showcases the iPad's wonders? Apple has done it before, so we know it can be done.

However, the latest ads, "Together" and "Alive" while trying to show us what can be done with an iPad feel overly needy. The pace of the ad is very much intended to assault the senses, raise the blood pressure, and get attention in a way that's, to me, out of sync with the values of the product and Apple.

The message to me is: we have the technology to assault your senses, for the sake of material gain, so we're going to do it.

That seems out of sync with the basic value proposition of the iPad, which is to become better educated, simplify our lives, connect with friends and family and create things that have value and please others.

Listen to me now! Kapow!

Now I know full well that the techniques used in advertising are different than we might always like them to be. A TV ad only has a few seconds at most to catch your attention and keep you from pressing a button on the remote. Even so, I have seen plenty of TV ads that use better advertising techniques to grab my attention than a rapid-fire sequence of text and drums. I am reminded of Max Headroom blipverts. The thinking here seems to be: If only we can hypnotize the audience, we can sell our product.

In my opinion, if Apple wants to sell us an iPad, perhaps it might be a good idea to tell us what its tablet can do better than the competition's. Tablets look very similar these days, so Amazon isn't shy about showing us the video comparison with the Kindle Fire HD. Amazon isn't shy about pointing out how the KFHD's speakers are better than the iPad's. Lower prices are mentioned.

It's not necessary to get dragged into the mud and have specification duels. But, on the other hand, Apple's current TV ads make me feel that the hustled, feverish ad is missing something.

There's no sense of wonder, product elegance and excitement for the future. There's no affirmation that the iPad is a better product. No celebration. Instead, there's a needy, empty feeling there, and the fracture is filled instead with a worrisome buzz -- visual and audio staccato that sends only one message: Let us drive you into a consumer frenzy. Hey look at us! We need you to get more excited, and we'll irritate you until you do.

These ads seem very un-Apple, and they unsettle me. The product qualities are not showcased, rather, the advertising technique blots out the underlying message -- which is already thin.


Verbal fist image via Shutterstock.



I don’t find them unsettling as much as forgettable. I remember the I’m a Mac ads. I remember the Think Different Ads. I had to watch the video above to even remember the iPad ad. It’s just another bit of advertizing noise that I ignore by reflex. Following on the heals of the Genius ads, this suggests that something has gone seriously off the tracks with Apple’s advertizing.


I fully agree!

Lee Dronick

Yes they are very annoying, but we are being plagued with a lot of that kind of stuff lately from a number of sources. Hopefully the marketing fad will soon pass.


I recently saw some commercials for kids’ cereals thought they were noisy and stupid. As my wife pointed out, I’m not the target audience.

John, as a person who is a “former U.S. Air Force officer and has worked for NASA, White Sands Missile Range, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Apple,” has it occurred to you that you’re not in the target demographic those ads are appealing to?

So I would suggest that there’s nothing wrong with the ads, however I’d also like to know to what group are they addressed, what is the CPM for reaching that target market, and is there an uptick in sales to that demographic since these ads have started to play? If Apple and their ad agency cannot respond to these questions, then the ads and campaign are not well designed nor effective.

Lee Dronick

“I recently saw some commercials for kids’ cereals thought they were noisy and stupid. As my wife pointed out, I’m not the target audience.”

True that Don. I suppose that my grandparents felt the same way about some of the adverts in the ‘50s and ‘60s that appealed to me back then.

Now a word from our sponsor

John Martellaro

Lee:  ROTFL at the Keds ad. At least it demonstrated the features and advantages of the product!

Lee Dronick

“If you want a tablet with lots of pep, get iPad kids iPad!


‘They’re not the audience so you shouldn’t care if they despise it’ is the sign of marketing executives trying to keep their jobs.

John Martellaro

Don108:  You glossed over the ‘Senior Marketing Manager’ at Apple part.

Lee Dronick

AAPL up as a result of the annoying ads?

Marcus Guerrero

They are not great ads but for me, not as annoying as the MS Surface and Samsung Galaxy commercials.  Let’s talk about those.

john Dingler, artist

TBWA Media Arts Lab produced them. I don’t know its reputation for producing effective ads.

Bryan Chaffin

I personally like the ads. I enjoy the music, and I think the combination of words and iPad-in-action shots, frenetic though they be, are interesting and compelling.

Paul Goodwin

HahahaHaha Lee. And we had to have the Keds. We’re they before or after the PF FLyers?

I guess if you make images go by very quickly, it doesn’t matter much how much thought you put into each image. Frenetic seems to be “in” today. Maybe it reflects the attention span of the youngsters these days. Or maybe they can process the information faster. I don’t think so. But “WILD”, “BRIGHT”, “TOGETHER” isn’t much of a message to me. Either does “LOUD”, “DEEP”, “ALIVE”. The images don’t bother me, the frenetic pace doesn’t bother me that much either. But in the end, it’s not very catchy, novel, or memorable. Seems with all those 100s of billions in cash, they could find somebody to come up with something better than that. Steve Jobs used to hammer it home at Pixar….IT’S THE STORY THAT MATTERS.

John Martellaro

Paul: Those punctuation words, “WILD,” “DEEP,” etc. are very forced. My reaction was that the ad doesn’t have enough emotion and finesse to let me draw my own conclusions.


John ~ I believe that there is a direct correlation between the level of annoyance, and one’s age.  Apple’s ad company is completely aware of this.  In other words, these ads are probably not aimed at those of us over, say 30.


I remember the snarky comments in forums and mac-hating blogs when the silhouette iPod commercials first came out.  There were charges of them inducing epileptic fits, how they were annoying and headache inducing.  Oddly enough, such comments were coming from older men.  Guess they were the target demographic either.


I like them. Maybe I am their target demo? LOL!


I agree, I hate the ads.


I like the ads. Period. I see what I might be able to do with my iPad. In comparison what do you see with the “looking for a Surface to do anything” ads with the mean looking dancing girls, the serious break dancing, and the “click” sound when connecting the keyboard to the “looking for a Surface to do anything” device. How about the Android ads made in comic book faction with a victim being abused with the OS???? I like these ads enough to want to see them in slo mo. I can not say this about many other ads, can you?

Paul Goodwin

I agree lizard. They certainly are better than thos other ads.

large w/Fries

Totally disagree.  I found them quite entertaining.  They give the feeling of something Alive!


I think we often assign “core values” to companies that dont necessarily match what the company considers its own core values.  As much as some of us would like to believe otherwise, apple’s core values (intended) involve catching your attention and making you buy stuff.  They don’t want to improve ours lives necessarily, or make us complete people through the magic of rectangles and touchscreens.  If that happens great, but all they really want is for you to buy their products year after year.  Most of us will do so without any advertising to remind us.  These ads are designed to pull in new people who weren’t seduced by Justin long and the high Mac girl.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account