Just the facts, please.

Maslow? Who the hell is Maslow?











Let me describe a TV commercial.

It doesn’t have much of a storyline. Not a lot of human presence. No punchline. No surprises. The visual approach is matter-of-fact. It’s basically just a string of demos, with many tight shots of the product and a voiceover describing the product’s functions and uses.

I could be describing a commercial for Bounty paper towels. Or a late-night DM spot for a kitchen gadget. But in fact, I’m describing the current spot for the Apple iPhone 4S.

It’s no small irony that many of the same creatives who worship at Apple’s altar would gag at the thought of writing an ad entirely focused on demonstrating a product’s unique features and benefits. But in fact, that kind of advertising has been the bedrock of Apple’s branding since the beginning. Everyone remembers “1984” and “Think Different,” but in reality, both of those spots were outliers: gauntlets thrown down at two key inflection points in the company’s history.

Far more typical was the introductory advertising for the iPod,  a 30 second demonstration of a guy listening to a piece of music, transferring it to his iPod and dancing his way out the door with it. The line: “1000 songs in your pocket.” That’s a collection of words any P&G brand manager from the 1950s would recognize and embrace. And it stands in stark contrast to the Maslow hierarchy drivel that passes for insight in so much current work: Be you. Be more. Life life to the fullest. Write your story. See life in HD. Chase what matters.

No good advertising comes out of this disingenuous emo crap. None. Never has. The great DDB Volkswagen ads? Demos. Ally & Gargano’s Fedex work in the 80s? Demos.  “Got Milk?”? Wonderbra? Mini? Demo. Demo. Demo.

It is an axiom of our business that no one is as interested in the product being advertised as the advertiser himself. In fact, the starting assumption for most creatives is that most people couldn’t care less. If this is what you believe it’s easy to be seduced into your agency planner’s higher-order benefit nonsense. My advice: stick to the facts.

2 thoughts on “Just the facts, please.

  1. captgordon says:

    You tell ’em, Joe Friday.

  2. did you catch Mary Meeker’s deck from web summit 2011? Slide 22, ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ Revisited?.. Thanks for the thoughts on Apple


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