What is Apple selling? Air or Lead Pencils?

Apple Blew It

I am a long, long admirer and devotee of Apple’s advertising, but no more.

Ever since the Orwellian 1984 ad,  which I still remember seeing when it aired, I credited Apple with having an uncanny power of breaking through the clutter.  They would grab your attention by knocking your socks off.  And you loved them for making you bare footed and awestruck.

Here is the classic 1984 ad that ran on air just once during the Super Bowl.



That may help you understand why I am beyond disappointed in the new iPad Air ad.Apple iPad Air


The style of the ad is typical Apple.

The delivery and tone almost Apple.

But the message?  OMG!

Listen to me while I ramble on to describe the mouthwatering features that can easily be attributed to the very old, antiquated yellow #2 Ticonderoga pencil created in the 1800s and then I’ll surprise you with the ever so thin, thinner iPad Air.

The tag line on Apple’s website for the iPad Air is:  The power of lightness

My thought is that this ad is “light headed”. Take a look.  You decide.




How heavy is a #2 Ticonderoga?  Not very.  Nor is it very thick as is so nicely demonstrated by Apple’s ad and it won’t set me back $500 or more dollars.

I’ve seen this commercial at least a half a dozen times in the last week.

And absolutely every time I view it I find myself NOT asking about the iPad Air.  Instead, I’m asking whatever happened the good old Ticonderoga?  You know, the lead wooden pencil with bite marks in it and where the eraser was dry, hard and dead.

All I want after seeing the Apple ad is a good old-fashioned yellow pencil to chew on.  I can get a 12 pack for $1.98 at Toys-R-Us.

Was this Apple’s intention?

I don’t think so.  Instead, I think something went very wrong in Apple-ville.


My first thoughts is that it would seem Apple doesn’t have a lot to talk about.  “Thin” and “light” seems to be a 2006 thing and not a big 2013 thing because most of us assume hardware will be as thin and light as possible.

But if Apple HAD to take this creative path, it might have been better to compare iPad Air to a feather to better communicate its lightness than the much loved Ticonderoga.

My other thought is that while Steve Jobs may have been able to skirt marketing research, it’s pretty obvious the current Apple advertising execs aren’t.  This is a classic case of where someone should have done some qualitative disaster testing before they let this ad fly.   It is as if Apple assumes anything they do will be viewed in the magic light of ‘we do no wrong’.  That spells trouble.

My bottom line

The new iPad Air commercial is dumb and should have never aired (pun intended).  That’s me.

What do you think?

Like, hate iPad Air commercial?


This last video is a parody of the iPad Air that I think you will enjoy.



The Marketing Bit - CTA





Apple and iPad Air are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.


Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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