I usually don’t see ads on TV at home (thank you TiVo 30 second skip), but once I got to my parent’s place I got to see a whole selection of Christmas advertisements. Two in particular jumped out at me.
One is Verizon’s “Faces” ad. I am sure it is not what they were going for but my takeaway from this is that we, their customers, are merely random, interchangeable accessories to the products they sell.
Compare this to Apple’s much discussed “Misunderstood” holiday ad. This is Apple doing advertisements at their best. Much like “1984” and “Think Different”, the products are not the star. In fact, you barely see the products at all. What you do see are the people who use them. You see normal life, not made, but enhanced by the things they make. This is why their ads generally stand out in a see of bland product spots. It is why Apple continues to dominate the gift giving season.
A good ad tells a story. Usually the story is “buy crap”. Apple’s goal certainly is to sell you an iPhone, but the ad doesn’t command you to do so. It invites you to.