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BLOG: Apple needs to 'Think Different' to beat Samsung, warns ads guru

Jonny Evans | Feb. 27, 2013
Is Apple losing its magic touch?

Apple [AAPL] has always maintained a cunningly managed "whole widget" approach across its business, spanning products, retail chain, support, even its advertising has traditionally maximized its message. But the company seems to be losing a little of its magic touch.

Think Different

The latest criticism of this side of the firm's business expression comes from the man behind the original iMac ads and Apple's 'Think Different' campaign, Ken Segall, who writes that today's Apple ads seem to be "battling" where they "used to crush". It could be said his observation matches the new lexicon of Apple, in which the firm is reeling under constant assault from all sides.

Segall's criticism should be taken seriously. He is the former creative director at Apple's long-term ads firm, TBWA/Chiat/Day. He presided over ads campaigns which helped the company create ads that became as famous as the products they promote. But things appear to have changed, Segall now thinks Samsung's TV ads are prevailing in the battle for consumer minds.

As he puts it, writing on his blog:

"While you can still argue that Macs and i-devices have a ton of appeal, you can't argue that Apple is still untouchable when it comes to advertising.

"The fact is, it is being touched - often and effectively - by none other than Samsung."

He notes that while Apple is sticking resolutely to its product based marketing, Samsung's focus on exploiting some of the more idiosyncratic qualities of Apple fans is paying dividends to the Korean smartphone giant.

"The company continues to bash away at Apple, delivering ads that are well produced, well written, and seem to be striking a nerve. In contrast to Apple, which has been sticking to its product-based ads, Samsung has been scoring points with its people-based ads -- most of which play off some growing negative perceptions about Apple."

He also notes Samsung's willingness to spend huge amounts of cash on ads placements. The company spends more on advertising than Coca-Cola, Dell, HP, or Apple. (I'd observe Samsung is also more willing to subsidize sales of its devices, as it plays an aggressive game in which it crushes other Android makers while piling competitive pressure on Apple).

Buzz creation

Segall says Apple's ads just aren't creating the same excitement at the moment, suggesting the firm has lost momentum.

"Apple has been the master of buzz creation going all the way back to the first iMac. It just isn't buzzing quite like it used to. Momentum has been lost. Not all of that is Apple's fault, but some of it certainly is," he writes.


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