Sunday, July 19, 2009

an apple a day.

I've been in the career of marketing communications for the last 12 years, specifically within the advertising industry. I fell in love with advertising when I was kid. Watching Saturday morning TV, I remember loving the commercials just as much as I loved the Smurf's. It wasn't until 1994, in my third year of university, when I surrendered to the fact that I wouldn't be an accountant and I wanted to do something, anything advertising related.  In 1997, I landed a job at Ogilvy, which is where it all began (insert dramatic music here).

This week, after twelve years in the business, I reflected back on my experience and what I've learned...

My brother and I were on the phone last Wednesday and I started to tell him about the book that I'm reading, "Icon" based on the life of Steve Jobs' career. My brother has a long history of being a computer nerd, which has served him well his entire life.  I'm often reminded of him and his passion as I read this book.  Sidebar: Each page that I turn I find myself more and more attracted to 'Steve Jobs Circa 1980'.  What a crazy bastard, and definitely someone who re-affirms the foundation of the book I'm writing.  OK, so back to the convo with my bro. We started talking about marketing & advertising, specifically the work that Apple has been doing for the last 5 years.  My brother asked me why more marketers don't produce simple, compelling, brilliant advertising like that.  And for what felt like the first time in my life, I had an answer for him (you need to know that my whole life my brother is uber smart, so much so in fact that I find it difficult to talk to him on the same plain about anything in life). But because he works for IBM in Marketing and Product Management we found common ground this week. Brilliant Branding.

To me the answer was simple.  
1) Because the advertising is built on an incredible product that lives up to (even surpasses) consumer expectations.
2) Apple knows branding in the purest, cleanest sense.  In many ways, it's almost like they invented branding itself.   

The company completely believes in innovation and leadership (so much so that when they were developing the Mac in the early 80s, Steve Jobs' specifically said his goal "was to change the world".  And, they did.).  Good lord, how many people say that today in the work that they do? Then, mean it and more importantly, have a group of people following that leadership to deliver on a vision. 

In my opinion, 95% of marketers want their advertising to say more than what their product or service can actually offer. In turn, they don't understand the essence of their brand. And most want the advertising to "go first" in order to change perceptions before they execute/change the product or in-store experience.   Advertising is not branding - the key lesson that I've witnessed over my career.

Jobs and Apple slaved over one vision and their product.  They have for the last 30 years. Simply put, they get it.  They believe in what they're doing.  Therefore, making it simple to showcase their efforts in store, on TV and all over the web. Consumers are doing the "advertising" work for them because they worship the product.  Apple has not let them down.

I can't remember a time when I got this much of a reaction to an ad I produced. More importantly I don't recall having my client beam from this much pride on something they've brought to market.  Long live brilliant marketers...

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. - Steve Jobs

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