Is Apple's brand now bland? Of course it is

While some celebrate Apple's trillionness, the man who created some of the company's most famous ads laments Cupertino's dullness.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer on

Video: Apple approaches trillion mark, expanding big tech's market mega-clout

There's change that you can believe in -- and there's change that you just have to accept.

We all fool ourselves into thinking that some small moment of our past was golden and that we can recreate it.

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More likely, it was a bright yellow at best, and we have no chance of bringing it back.

I therefore read with nodding, slightly sad eyebrows the recent words of the former creative director on the Apple advertising account, Ken Segall.

He worked closely with Steve Jobs. He was one of the core people behind one of the greatest ads ever made: Apple's Here's To The Crazy Ones.

Now, though, he seems to wish things were at least a little crazy still. At Apple, that is.

Speaking to The Telegraph, he lamented that Apple was "a little vanilla." Apple, he said, "should be building a personality for the phone, a thing that people might want to be part of because it rises above the features of the moment."

One can understand such emotions. Sadly, though, phones have become less exciting, as they've proliferated to so many hands and technological change has slowed.

A phone launch doesn't quite inspire the lines and the giddiness it once did.

Also: New 2018 iPhone: All the rumors on specs, price, release date CNET

Too many phones now look similar -- and, yes, Apple's superior sense of design caused so many competitors to drift toward it, rather than create something, well, different.

Moreover, the same thing has happened to advertising. An ad used to make so many stop and stare because it spoke to a much more captive audience.

Now, you have to find a way to attract someone's attention in nanosecond bursts before they go off and watch the next asinine YouTube video, presented by a blonde youth with the cultural awareness of a shoe box.

This is partly why so many Apple ads these days resemble YouTube videos. Recently, there's been a constant stream of ads in which someone's dancing. Because, hey, dancing.

Segall is saddened by the fact that so many Apple ads now just present a feature of the product, rather than inspire emotionally to a higher purpose and feeling.

This, he suggests, doesn't breed loyalty. He's right, of course. I fear, though, that many at Apple worry less about loyalty these days, believing that once they've sucked (not suckered) people into their ecosystem, they're unlikely to leave.

Worse, Apple's very large now.

You know what's better than creating products the likes of which no one has seen? A trillion dollars!

The company is also run by someone who's instinctively more familiar with supply systems, rather than heart-raising communication.

Although Apple CEO Tim Cook is doing a more than passable job of being the only human being left at the top of a major tech company.

There's one other reason why Apple reaches for beige, rather than a bright purple: It doesn't have enough competition.

It owns a vast proportion of phone profits. With just a tinge of smugness, it turned up at last week's June quarter results call and could barely suppress its giggles at how well it's doing.

Also: Apple iOS 11: Cheat sheet TechRepublic

If corporations are, indeed, people, then Apple is slowly reaching a sort of George Clooney dotage, in which it knows that people will still think it knows what it's doing, even if it occasionally makes another Oceans movie or One Fine Day.

Apple was once young, brash, and inspired. Now, it's a little slick and self-satisfied.

It's got no one to fight, no one to get angry at.

Perhaps it doesn't feel the need to inspire people about Apple anymore because, hey, we're Apple.

Meanwhile, more and more people walk around wearing AirPods and looking slightly silly.

They're saying ,"Hey, we're Apple," too.

Apple products you should not buy (August 2018 edition)

Previous and related coverage:

Apple's earnings are amazing, but not enough

On the heels of an impressive earnings announcement, Apple officially reached $1 trillion in market value -- but is that enough to compete with Amazon?

New 2018 iPhone, iPhone X Plus, iPhone 9: Here's what we know -- and think we know -- is coming

The launch of the next iPhone likely mere weeks away, and the leaks, rumors, and analyst chatter is reaching fever pitch.

Apple briefly becomes America's first trillion-dollar corporation before stock price slips back

Apple became the first publicly traded American company to be worth $1 trillion when shares traded at $207.05. With new iPhones on the way, it could soon re-pass the milestone and stay there.

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