Stale fruit is a dish best served by Apple
Why Apple are always one step ahead.
There’s a banner on the iTunes Store promo carousel right now which demonstrates how Apple are still so far in front of their competitors that they’ve stopped in the shade to eat a delicious, fresh watermelon from a roadside vendor whilst everyone behind them thrashes around in the dust and the heat and the midday sun, trying to catch up to get a piece of the watermelon which, when they get there, is spoiled, but gets eaten anyway.
The banner shows two people chummying up for the camera in front of an obscured tour neon with just the message ‘Watch the interview’ next to a watermarked logo. Subtle.
If you recognise the peanut-headed dude in the fetching brown bomber jacket as Zane Lowe, then nothing else needs to be said. If you know him, ergo, you know Taylor Swift.
If you don’t recognise who that peanut-headed dude is with Taylor Swift, it doesn’t matter. You know the world’s biggest pop star Taylor Swift. And she’s in interview with some peanut-headed guy whom, you’ll find out, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on music and gives very good interview.
If you don’t know who the woman is with the peanut-headed dude, it doesn’t matter. It’s not for you. You’re not target audience. You’re just part of some niche who’s out-of-the zeitgeist loop.
If you’re just part of some niche who’s out-of-the zeitgeist loop, then this promo holds intrigue. It’s so empty. There’s no shouty words. It’s psychologically reversing on you. It’s taking your attention. And if it isn’t, it doesn’t matter anyway. You’re just part of some niche who’s out-of-the zeitgeist loop.
And as for the watermarked logo? Same as above. If you know Zane Lowe, you’ll know he heads up Apple’s Beats 1 Radio. If not, doesn’t matter. This banner isn’t about to work as a customer education piece.
Interestingly, Apple’s latest thing is dropping celebrities into their tellybox advertising. What was seen as a ridiculous, massive no-no – like in the days of yore when Pepsi’s über-celebrity endorsement was the ad itself – has been switch-reversed into a post modern yes-yes. Apple, somehow, appear to be making it acceptable again. And you can bet they’ll stick a knife through the heart of this (questionable) trope before it gets too old too quick. Naturally, this celeb connection merges into the digital realm, and the next thing you know: this banner.
What’s remarkable about this iTunes Store promo is the sophistication of its design. The silence between the notes. What’s not said is deafening. It’s at once both oblique and transparent but, overarchingly, intriguing. It’s only a banner. A stupid little banner. But it’s one of the more exciting little things I’ve seen in a while. Why? Because it’s so simple and shows Apple’s complete, single-minded multi-layered understanding of their their business and audience through design. Very good design. Very good design which their competitors sedulously ape (the Samsung Galaxy TV spots, for example, which currently employ a clean white space aesthetic which Apple originally pioneered then and sacked off a few years back) and in their aping, prove how far behind the melon vendor they are.