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Apple has used a variety of advertising campaigns to promote its iPod portable digital media player. The campaigns include television commercials, print ads, posters in public places, and wrap advertising campaigns. These advertising techniques are unified by a distinctive, consistent style that differs from Apple's other ads.

Original ad

The very first advert for the first iPod (only compatible with Macs) featured a man in his room grooving to his digital music collection on his Apple iBook. He drags his music to his iPod, closes his iBook, and plugs in the ear phones. He hits play and the music increases its volume. He then dances and hops around the room, then puts on his jacket, sliding the iPod into the pocket. He dances to the door and leaves the room.[1] The song used was "Take California" by the Propellerheads, which became the hallmark of all subsequent advertisements.

One of the problems, noted Apple ad agency creative director Ken Segall, was the use of what he termed a 'real person.' Steve Jobs, he stated, avoided using people in his ads because it was difficult to find an actor who appealed to everyone.[2] Another problem was that, "It was somewhat uncomfortable to watch, and on the web some started to refer to it as the "iClod" was a young guy trying to act cool, and doing so in a fairly pitiful way".[2]

Silhouette style

Susan Alinsangan, a Chiat/Day art director, came up with the design of the iPod silhouette commercials[2] in 2003, along with the help of Chiat/Day's director Lee Clow, and James Vincent, a former DJ and musician.[3] She worked on the print campaign with artist Casey Leveque of Santa Monica's Rocket Studio[4]

The silhouette advertising campaign featured dark silhouetted characters against brightly colored backgrounds. They were usually dancing and, in television commercials, backed by up-beat, energetic music. The silhouetted dancers held iPods while listening to them with Apple's supplied earphones. The iPods and earphones appeared in white to stand out against the colored background and black silhouettes.[3] Apple changed the style of these commercials often depending on the song's theme or genre. "It had a hook that was really was captivating and didn't try to impress us with the coolness of any particular person. Instead, it did what Apple does best: it created an iconic image, which immediately came to communicate Apple and iPod."[2]

At first, however, Steve Jobs did not like the Silhouette campaign when it was presented to him.[2] He was not certain that the silhouettes would work since they didn't show the product in detail and they didn't explain what the iPods did. The ad designers fought to convince Steve and copywriter James Vincent suggested adding the tagline "1,000 songs in your pocket" to address the issue. Steve Jobs decided to go with it. He would later claim it was his idea to push for the more iconic ads.[5]

This change of strategy was a very successful one for the company. Previous ads for Apple's computers usually featured a high-quality photograph of the product on a white background with a short tag-line. In those ads the focus was entirely on the product and its craftsmanship. With the creation of the Silhouette campaign, however, the focus shifted from convincing consumers to purchase the device to asking them to "buy the emotion."[2] Everything about the ads was energetic — the bright shades of tropical-like colors of lime green, yellow, fuchsia, bright blue, and pink, to the energetic and danceable rock, pop, and hip hop music, and the simple tag-lines.[3] The whiteness of the iPod and the earphones against the black of the silhouette and the bright backgrounds further helped launch the iPod into icon status. The white earbuds also became an icon signifying the iPod itself. The ubiquitous nature of the advertising campaign ensured everyone was exposed to ads.[2]

Evolution of the Silhouette Style

The original television commercials and posters featured solid black silhouettes against a solid bright color, which usually changed every time the camera angle changed. Some of the television adverts also depict highlights on the silhouettes using darkened shades of the background color, and shadows on the floor. Since then, various commercials in the campaign have changed the format further:

See also


  1. ^ Video on YouTube
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Insanely Simple", The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success, by Ken Segall
  3. ^ a b c "The iPod Silhouettes", The Pop History Dig
  4. ^ "ITunes Apple history | the Pop History Dig".
  5. ^ Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs, Simon & Schuster, 2011
  6. ^ "The Best (And Most Controversial) Music in Marketing". Frahm Digital. February 23, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  7. ^ Furman, Phyllis (November 5, 2005). "Lugz Wants Apple To Cut Copycat Ad". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  8. ^ "Student's Ad Gets a Remake, and Makes the Big Time". The New York Times. October 26, 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2010.