Advertising in the technology sector has been a key component of the biggest players’ strategy for quite some time. In the modern era, marketing strategy forms a key component of branding, and goes a long way towards ensuring that consumers are familiar with your products as well as communicating a specific ethos and image associated with your company to them.
Two of the biggest brands in the world are Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), and both have a distinct image which has been strongly forged over the last couple of decades. Apple has particularly cast itself as a company associated with style and innovation, and while they have sometimes been criticized for offering aesthetics over substance, virtually anyone in the world can identify an Apple product as soon as they see one. That is a pretty significant achievement for any company.
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Google meanwhile hasn’t existed as long as Apple, but the company which is most associated with its search engine pioneered the idea of simplicity. Google was a no-frills site from day one, and rightly recognized the value in giving people what they want rather than telling them.
The extravagant iPad Air commercial
It’s interesting then to assess the recent advertising strategy of the two companies. By now, virtually everyone in the world who owns a television set will have seen Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s commercials for the iPad Air. Roping the A-list actor Robin Williams to do the voiceover was a pretty smart move (poor Robin must have been short of a few bucks…) and the cinematography is little short of spectacular. When you’re watching the iPad Air commercial, it’s hard not to reflect on the vast amount of money it must have cost to put together.
Not to be outdone, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s ‘We’re all Storytellers’ commercial attempts to personalize the search engine by showing the story of an apparently budding young film-makers using Google to solve problems related to the movie(s) that they’re shooting. It’s a simpler and less diverse piece, but one intended to be touching rather than epic in scale.
Forbes magazine recently argued that the Google advert inspires action, while the Apple commercial merely incites envy. The writer correctly acknowledges that Apple is positioning its products as aspirational by attempting to associate them with a series of activities that most of us will never conceivably be involved in, but asserts that “aspirational only work if it is attainable”, and criticized the elitism implied by Apple. I would disagree profoundly with this.
Apple “Your Verse”:
Google “We’re All Storytellers”:
The Apple niche
Apple has carved its niche out in the market precisely by making its device seem elitist. The Google commercial attempts to make Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) seem a nifty and almost cosy part of everyday family life. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) positions the iPad Air as something that people use who wish to break off the shackles of workaday existence. Of course, buying a tablet computer is not particularly likely to actually help with this!
Both approaches are entirely logical given the brand identity that Google and Apple have already established. But it’s wrong to suggest that Apple has alienated its audience by appearing too snooty. With many more affordable devices available on the market than those produced by Apple, it seems essential for them to continue to mark their products out as premium and aspirational, even if it alienates some people.