For decades, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) had made a name for itself with consistently iconic, memorable, and unique ad campaigns. Each major marketing push was innovative and powerful, strengthening Apple's ability to effectively communicate with consumers, while setting it apart from the mediocre and forgettable ads of rivals.
That was until recently. Over the past couple of years, Apple's ads have lacked the same impact. There is quite a distinct possibility that this decline was tied directly to Steve Jobs' death, since Jobs was always very active in marketing and always had the final say with what ads Apple chose to run.
Perhaps the worst were the "Genius" ads, a remarkably terrible trio of ads that Jobs would have never approved. Some of the more recent spots that emphasize various random capabilities are also uninspiring.
The Mac maker has just released a fresh iPhone ad that falls back to a time-tested formula that it had utilized previously for years on end.
Welcome back, Apple. The ad highlights the iPhone's camera in a number of cases, saying "more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera." This may not even be that much of an exaggeration, since different iPhone models occupy the top three popular camera spots on Flickr.
Apple is backing off the product-as-hero strategy where it essentially only concentrates on the device it's selling, and instead of going back to the reliable method of showing people emotionally connecting with their gear. It's not rocket science, but instead an easy, simple, and effective fallback that gets the job done. Heartstrings can always be tugged.
It's also the advertising strategy that Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has been playing quite successfully in recent times. The "Camping" and "Curious" ads for the Nexus 7 both portrayed parents using the tablet to connect with their kids in various ways. Likewise, the Nexus 10 "New Baby" spot shows an expectant couple preparing for their new arrival. All of these ads use the same method of emotional appeal.
Ad Age even asserted at the time, "Google is making better Apple ads than Apple," since "Camping" crushed the "Genius" ads in an Ace Metrix study on ad effectiveness, in part by using Apple's emotional appeal strategy.
The iPhone camera spot may not be part of a timeless campaign like "Think Different," but it's a welcome relief at a time when Apple's ad prowess has come under fire -- even from its own former ad agency director -- and Samsung's marketing budget is seemingly bottomless.
Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.