Month where Apple, Facebook killed their brands

Month where Apple, Facebook killed their brands

Summary: Through a series of commercials, Apple has shredded its most valuable asset while Facebook decides to give up on creating a trustworthy reputation in pursuit of a quick buck.

TOPICS: Apple, Tech Industry

What on earth is going on at Apple and Facebook? Did Google bribe the companies' brand management teams to destroy their credibility, coolness and trustworthy factor in one fell swoop?

I'm talking about the recent Apple commercials showing an Apple Genius helping a series of befuddled middle-aged men and Facebook's decision to enter the online gambling market.

Facebook--a company slammed regularly over privacy violations, and running a service where it's vital to build and nurture trust among its users. This doesn't gel with online gambling. When I think about Internet blackjack I picture pop-up ads, blinking banners, and a group of slick hair Mafioso sitting in the Cayman Islands where their computers are going ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching, as people lose money and get infected with malware.

Facebook's earnings report disappointed the market, and there are questions about where new revenue streams will be, but online gambling? Reeks of a desperate way to get money.

I'm a fan of Facebook and haven't had any big concerns with how they have used my data. In short, I'm an ideal user for the company. Yet this move toward online gambling rattles me. Facebook wants to share my information with Adidas? Whatever. Let Intel turn my pictures into a virtual museum exhibit? Great! Might provide data to an online gambling site? NO.

It's a slippery slope from online gambling, to pornography, to selling Viagra knockoffs. How frantic is Facebook for money? All those millions spent addressing trust and privacy issues--undone by a decision to chase gambling revenue. This seems so astoundingly obvious that there must have been internal debate about whether to pursue this route. If only we could understand what drove their decision.

Now to Apple...a company arguably built on its image of being cool, easy-to-use, and inspiring. (Note to Apple-bashers, I'm not saying these qualities are true, I'm talking about perception.) The recent series of ads shows Apple customers as idiots, the Genius as a patronizing jerk, and leaves the viewer with feelings of awkwardness and failure. In one ad a guy has been ripped off, in another the wife-in-labor is used as a punchline, and another focuses on a man who forgot his wedding anniversary.

All of us will be or already are "middle-aged". These commercials show that in Apple's world, the middle-aged male is an inept Phil-like character from Modern Family. To the younger folks it's pointing out, "Hey kids, your dad is buying Apple". Gone are the Think Different images, the runner hurling the hammer into big brother, and the humor of the PC versus Mac guy. In its place is a vision of Best Buy, soccer moms, and suburban strip malls. They were commercials aimed at making you buy a computer. Did their own staff forget that they've never been about hawking computers? Apple's success is from selling a lifestyle.

Gambling and middle-age. This is the MySpace-ing of Facebook and Dell-ing of Apple.

Topics: Apple, Tech Industry


Howard spent 14 years in the tech industry working as a programmer, evangelist, and community manager for Microsoft. In 2009, he had lived his "dream" of middle-management long enough and opened a Japanese restaurant called Standing Sushi Bar. Trading in stock grants and software licenses for raw fish and cash, he enjoys mixing his passion for technology into the daily hustle of small business.

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  • Here's my take:

    The new ads are a product of a post-Jobs Apple. The only design talent left at Apple Executive is Ives. Even the software guys should be shot for putting in fake stitched leather UI chrome and lined yellow paper sheets with a script typeface.

    And Facebook is desperate to make up the losses of their falling stock prices. (You are kidding about Facebook wanting to build trust with users, right??)
  • Not just the "Genius Commercials"

    What about the other commercial,... with the old guy, almost in retirement age, in a taxi talking to his iPhone and annoying the driver and whoever watch the commercial.

    That's even worst.
    • Wow!

      The old guy? You should really look up who that is first! That commercial made sense!
      • Yes...Make perfect sense

        For people over 50....
        Looks like the comercial for one touch alarm system for seniors.
        Siri..where is the closest retirement facility?...
        • A few short weeks until we have....

          Siri....I've fallen and I can't get up!
          Siri....who has the best price on adult diapers?
          Siri...where's the beef?
          • The blogger is only 5 days late.

            Apple only ran the 3 commercials once. They pulled them.
          • That's not the problem

            The problem is not that ran the commercials once each, the problem is that someone somewhere let them be made and worst, aired!
          • It's still on ....

            On YouTube and a Million other site.. I'm middle aged and I grew up with computers (after all it's 40 years on), NOBODY can underestimate my skills. BTW just whom were they targeting with that AD?
    • the old guy???

      you mean martin scorsese? the guy who made the movie taxi driver? (not to mention goodfellas, casino, raging bull, gangs of new york, the departed) i hope he doesn't retire, his movies are great!
      • So what...

        Sorry,... but any of this changed the fact that he is a old guy (who problaby dont even know how to use the phone) and the commercial is sucks.
        • yeah

          ok, well, if "probably dont even know how to use the phone" is supposed to be some kind of valid argument then i'm afraid you'll need to move along now. or we can debate some more and i'll throw out a few "probably's" as my argument and you can throw some out and...

          seriously now. that and your opinion that is sucks is what you're going with?
          • Perfect sense

            Why stop there...
            I can visualize now....Mick Jagger talking to Siri to re-schedule his next tour.
            Or maybe Cher with the feather headdress asking Siri for directions.
          • Yeah...

            Those people in the original Think Different ads were geezers too.
        • Does the name Martin Scorsese ring a bell?

          And it does change the commercial entirely, given the context of who he is.

          It's called advertising, and sometimse it works better on some then it does others. ;)

          On a side note, I was surprised to see Apple feeling they need to throw celebrities into their commercials to push a product that in the past needed nothing other then the Apple logo on it to sell out.

          That says more then the commercial themselves.
          William Farrel
          • on a side note...

            all those other celebrities aren't, uh, celebrities? jeff goldblum, yao ming, verne troyer, samual l jackson, u2, dylan, zooey deschanel, patrick warburton, john malkovich... those aren't celebrities?

            so what exactly is it saying now? enlighten us.
          • Where did I say that they aren't celebrities?

            Re-read my post - it clealy says "I was surprised to see Apple feeling they need to throw CELEBRITIES into their commercials

            I clearly stated THEY ARE celebrities, by using the plural form of the word "Celebrity". Should I have spelled them all out?

            But the statement stands - Apple is using big names to push iPhone 4S. They never needed to before.

            With the iPod, they used their music in the commercils to push the product a product that played music (kind of makes sense).

            Here they're using actors/directors to push Siri; The same feature which probably hasn't pushed iPhone4S sales to where they assumed they be by now.
            William Farrel
          • where is this past

            you speak of? where the apple logo alone would sell a product?
            how far back we going here? it's been 10 years of using celebrities. you're finding yourself surprised now?
          • That is the problem

            with us Americans, we buy things because of a logo. People are starting to wake up and realize that buying things based on logos and the "cool" image is really just stupidity. I don't buy designer jeans and I sure as hell don't buy "designer" technology. I go for what works best and gives me the most freedom.
          • People buy based on logos

            ONLY after the logo has established itself as a mark of quality, trust, etc.
          • Do revisionism much?

            Apple has used celebrities through all their ads. All the way from Think Different, to the Switcher commercials, to the I'm a Mac, I'm a PC ad campaign, to the iPod commercials.