Apple's new ads feature Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel

Samuel L Jackson - Say What Again Siri

TBWA\Chiat\Day released two videos Monday night showcasing Siri for the Apple iPhone 4s. The ads feature Samuel L Jackson and Zooey Deschanel.

The video featuring Jackson shows him cooking a dinner for “date night”, asking Siri about organic mushrooms, and doing a few other things that don’t involve yelling “Mother f****r!” (which, I admit, is a little disappointing).


Deschanel, meanwhile, is shown in her pajamas doing her usual cute and quirky things like ironically asking if it’s raining, asking Siri to remind her to clean her room (tomorrow), and goofily dancing out of frame.

The ads are a noticeable break from Apple’s usual advertising style. While Apply has used highly-visible celebrities in their TV spots in the past, these days Apple rarely uses celebrities for their ads other than for Voice Over, opting more for product-focused advertising.

In a departure from its product-as-hero ads of the last few years, Apple has enlisted a pair of celebrities to hawk Siri.

Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel star in the ads, which broke Monday night. In Jackson’s ad, he uses Siri to help cook a meal for “date night” and asks Siri to “find me a store that sells organic mushrooms for my risotto.” (Sorry fans, Jackson doesn’t drop any expletives in the ad.)

Deschanel, meanwhile, plays on her quirky/cute appeal and, noting it’s raining, asks Siri to find someone to deliver tomato soup. Then, she asks Siri to remind her to clean up — tomorrow — and then to play “Shake, Rattle and Roll” so she could dance today.

It’s unclear whether these ads, from longtime agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab, represent a new direction for Apple. The brand has typically opted to use celebs — including Richard Dreyfuss and Jeff Goldblum — for voiceovers.

via Mashable.

The ads do raise a few questions: Could this be the start of a new campaign for Apple and TBWA\Chiat\Day? Why did they choose Jackson and Deschanel? Should we expect to see more Siri-celeb ads out there soon? Perhaps the intention was to poke fun at celebrity-based ads. After all, in the Samuel L. Jackson ad he is departing from his stereotypical bad-boy character while Zooey Deschanel is playing a highly exaggerated version of her character. Whatever the intention is, we will be keeping our eyes peeled for upcoming Apple ads.


Oh, and by the way, there’s a soundboard app called iSamJackson. You’re welcome.

Losing first-mover advantage

When Apple introduced the iPhone, Steve Jobs was hoping for 1% market share. And while the audience coo’ed about the original iPhone, it wasn’t nearly as smart as it evolved to be with the app store which came a year later. Apple invented the smart phone/computer in your pocket- and is once again about to lose it’s first mover advantage.

Go back to 1984 to learn a lesson Apple. When the Mac was introduced and there was “the computer for the rest of us” there was nothing else in the category (except maybe the Amiga). The enemy was Microsoft- a company that didn’t even make a computer. Apple has seen its fortunes rise and fall with the all important market share- and the battle has taken it close to the edge of non-existence. Now, sitting on $54 billion in cash, once again- Apple is taking a huge gamble- fighting the Android operating system from Google- a company that tried to make a phone and failed (the Nexus 1).

As of this week- Android operating system, which is FREE, took third position in smart phone operating system market share. That’s third with a bullet- in a little over a year, it’s passed the iOS which has been out for 4 years.

Android is now larger than the iPhone on the world stage, analysts at Gartner said today. Google’s phone platform jumped to 10.6 million phones sold, or enough to overtake the iPhone and take 17.2 percent of the market. The researchers believe Apple sold more iPhones than it shipped, at 8.47 million, but the higher number was still enough to put it at fourth place with 14.2 percent.

via Gartner: Android has overtaken iPhone worldwide | Electronista.

The Google Apps store is quickly catching up with Apple’s in number of titles as well- and this is where the real money is for software. This is where Apple has to learn that no matter how great their hardware- the money is in Software- especially when every single iOS units buys an average of 5 apps- which Apple makes money on.

The market share in the US would be much larger if Apple ended their “exclusivity” deal with AT&T early. In fact, right now, paying AT&T off to allow the iPhone to come to other carriers before the Christmas buying season would be a smart move. Offer AT&T the profits on every Verizon app store sale through Jan 1, 2012, offer a lump sum for every AT&T switcher between now and Jan 1, 2012, but don’t continue to not be available to so many who are making moves to Android because of lack of competition. Winning that market share is infinitely more expensive in the long run.

Apple also has to look at each iOS device now as a part of its iAd strategy- which will pay more for every user connected, the revenue from AT&T will pale in comparison very soon- unless iOS gets marginalized again by Android. Smart phones are the most important data gathering devices for martketers that we know of. Google is a master at this game- and will be increasingly harder to beat.

If Steve Jobs- or anyone at Apple has the smarts to look at their own history, they’ll know that market share by having more carriers is worth more in the long run than anything else. It’s bad enough we have 2 year contracts and early termination fees to battle- now, the enemy is giving away software- and if you think it’s not dangerous- go ask Marc Andreesen what happened to Netscape once Microsoft started giving away Internet Explorer.

When it comes to marketing efficiency and software sales- market share is everything. Letting your competition leapfrog you because of stubborn business models is insanely stupid. There is no rational reason not to end the exclusivity deal with AT&T early- even if it costs Apple in the short run.

Building affinity programs the web 2.0 way

We are all barcodes

We are all barcodes

One of the problems with affinity programs is that they force the customer to carry a card for every retailer. The same can be said for membership programs- like my Y membership card. Besides making my wallet thicker than a Whopper®, the amount of time searching for the right card slows down the check out/in process.

Some of the credit card companies have experimented with RFID chips in small dongles, “speed pass” etc, yet, this is just another piece of branded trash that’s being forced into my pocket.

In Japan, cell phones have been used to connect to everything from soda machines to public transit, with the billing being handled by the telco provider.

We’re not there yet in the USA, but, a new software application for iPhone or iPod touch allows consumers to carry the barcode image on the card in their phone:

Mesa Dynamics and CardStar have announced CardStar for the iPhone/iPod touch


its latest mobile application for personal card management. The program allows users to digitally upload their customer-reward and club cards, enabling cashiers to scan the barcode displayed on the touchscreen, instead of having to bring the card with them. CardStar contains a merchant list of over 100 companies, with six different categories, and supports barcode formats for most commonly used cards including code 39, code 128, EAN 13, and UPCA.Available categories include travel, retail, grocery, gym, entertainment, and drug store. An advanced option allows addition of cards that are not currently included in the merchant lists. CardStar can be purchased from the App Store and is priced at $1.

MacNN | CardStar provides reward/club card tools on iPhone.

Marketers should be rushing to embrace this kind of customer centric use of technology to make it easier for consumers to keep connected with your brand.

Besides, I keep breaking my YMCA keyfob membership number, but, knock on wood, my iPhone can’t snap in half.

Apple fails truth in advertising 101

Apple iPhone 3G, twice as fast, half the price

Apple announced the 3G iPhone on Monday, June 9 2008. I imagine the lawsuits will start by today, but, don’t quote me on it. If they don’t, they should- and Apple should be ashamed.

This isn’t the first iPhone price debacle, the first generation iPhone started out at $599, only to have the price cut by $200 less than 60 days after launch. Apple made it up (sort of) to early adopters by granting them a $100 credit at the Apple store.

This time, the part that’s missing from the small print is that Apple’s US partner in this, ATT, is going to require all 3G iPhone buyers to sign up for a new 2 year contract that is $10 more a month for the data plan that you have to have with the iPhone if you want to use all of its features. That works out to $240 extra- $40 more than you’d pay for the original iPhone with service. This iPhone might be $199 instead of $399, but, you will pay more monthly.

It’s not clear if ATT is offering the old “EDGE” or 2.5G price option to new 3G buyers or not. As a user of the original iPhone, I can tell you this:

ATT’s idea of “Internet access” via the “EDGE” network- is an absolute farce- my old carrier, Sprint- not only had faster access, but less dropped calls, and better coverage. Also, the visual voice mail on the phone only works when you have internet access- which means without EDGE or a WiFi connection- you can’t reliably easily retrieve your voice mail.

Apple still has other issues in this price change. The old iPhone hasn’t been readily available for months. If your 2.5G iPhone (still under warranty) has an accident (like mine did on Saturday night- slipping out of the holster into a bucket of ice water)- Apple is still charging $249 for a refurb, with no additional warranty:

Apple iPhone accident repair plan
This price- $249 to replace a phone that will soon be obsolete- and that can be purchased new on July 11 for $199 makes no sense. Apple’s pricing guru’s are asleep at the wheel on this.

It’s also sending a message to Apple’s customers that Apple really doesn’t care about taking care of it’s best customers- the early adopters.

Besides the “half the price” being a lie, Apple and ATT still haven’t learned the number one truth of the internet enabled consumer: pricing games are over; “There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.” This was thesis 12 of the “Cluetrain Manifesto” published in 1999.

Subsidizing prices with subscription plans isn’t a viable way to build in hidden costs. Apple and ATT will have to learn this the hard way, which is really too bad, since they are probably reintroducing the greatest product in history- with features that will change the perception of what a phone can do as a computing platform- again.