In 2001, when Apple debuted the first iPod ad, they broke their paradign of narrated ads 100% functionality-oriented [1, 2, 3], and adopted a more sutil, conceptual approach. Then came the Sillhouette campaign, with the iconic vibrating backgrounds, black shapes of people dancing about, and the white iPods + earpieces. Which is still used in Gift Cards.
Fast forward to the first iPhone, MacBook Air and iPad ads. compare them with the most recent ads for the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini. Despite the iPhone pieces having that voiceover presenting features, the same spirit is still there. A pleasant soundtrack guides us until the very last second.
While the same message was being promoted in the same way by all the players, it became very homogeneous. And Apple was the only one being benefitted from that, since they had been doing it for so long. A feel-good, inspiring soundtrack would take over, while a video presenting the best features of a product became commonplace.
Add to that the gigantic shitball that became the coverage for the Samsung x Apple copy lawsuits, turns out that copying Apple’s territory wasn’t really going to work for anybody anymore. But if you can’t copy Apple, how do you sell your stuff? How do you make it gain personality, call the attention of the public, get some light under the spotlight?
That’s simple. Just do the exact opposite, right? Replace the clean aesthetics for a dark, heavy environment. Replace the pleasant and smooth vibe for something intense. Replace all the calm and ease for a very dinamic and fragmented editing work. And finally replace the feel-good song for something… something… uhm, for something.
And then there was the Dubstep in advertising advent. The sound that can be described as hip-hop played by some very mean and pissed off robots.
The list of adopters is comprehensive. IE 10, HP, Samsung (course-correcting the S2 campaign), e Nokia (which went half-way, as they maintained the Apple-like look, but adopted the dubstep-ish soundtrack and editing) and finally, the Microsoft Surface.
Infact, something very funny happened to the Microsoft Surface communication:
Notice the difference? To make their case as fresh, new, full-of-personality, ultratech, attitude-packed product, they went all-in in the farthest thing they possibly could, when compared to the iPad (and Apple as a whole) line of communication.
But when the time came to present their funcionalities, the actual product and to try to get people to buy the product instead of the idea, hold and behold, here are all the Apple-esque attributes again. Here’s the feel-good sountrack, here are the happy and satisfied users having a great experience all over again. Now they are trying to prove to you that the Microsoft Surface is a great iPad.
I honestly hope that this whole dubstep in advertising thing is just a phase, and it’s put to rest soon. The simple fact that a company might think that they’d have to get away from simplicity and good taste to position themselves as an alternative to another company should be reason enough to show them that they are doing everything wrong.