by admin

(here’s the original post and my reply that started the fun).

(his rebuttal—reproduced here verbatim—was deleted. but the internet never forgets)



Know what the difference this dude and Don Draper the writers of Mad Men is?

The fact that the writers of Mad Men are portraying the downfall of American society by giving us admen who make frequent mistakes and constantly push for their downfall, who can’t land huge clients, and who, while wealthy, have empty lives and a constant feeling of meaninglessness about their lives?

They know better than “Magic Sells”.

Ooh. Oh. I get it. This is one of those things where you tell me I don’t know anything in response to my telling other people they don’t know anything, and, rather than backing up your point with logic, you namedrop your favorite television show.

Well, as Omar Little from my favorite show, The Wire, once said:

You’re right. Apple don’t know their shit. They didn’t sell half a zillion iPods and half a zillion iPhones and they didn’t just convince half a zillion people to preorder iPads by using Magic Sells and they didn’t hire TBWAChiatDay to create some of the most iconic ad campaigns of the decade and this move absolutely was not something they would approve of.

We know Omar Little’s right because he’s a better character than anybody from Mad Men. I win this round of snarky TV rockpaperscissors, I guess.

I do love Omar. But I don’t remember him saying that. And I still don’t agree.

I figured, since I don’t understand people, and since it took you 800 words to say “admen get paid to understand the entire planet and to synthesize it all into a sentence”, and since you seem to think Apple’s market dominating iPod and iPhone were launched as “two products in a row” (six years apart) there’d be no point in going at this with logic.

But if you really want to throw down, fuck it—I always have time for a nerd fight.

The iPod wasn’t sold as magic. It was sold as a functional solution—check out Jobs’ low-key release announcement from 2001: the music industry is huge & lucrative, it has no real leader, here’s what’s out there, here’s why the iPod is the best solution. He didn’t even mention the magic of iTunes sync—the device stood on its own merits.

To be fair, the iPod didn’t really take off until 2004, thanks to fantastic word of mouth and, yes, a very successful ad campaign. But while it used popular music and fashionable people/dancing silhouettes to brand itself as young and hip, the underlying message was the same logical drumbeat—all your music, anywhere, anytime. No one called it “magical” because they didn’t have to—people needed an iPod.

The Mac vs. PC ad campaign launched in 2006 was no different. Here’s a PC, here’s a Mac; this is why the second is better than the first. The message is served with liberal helping of associations—the pudgy, doofy John Hodgman vs. the stylish, sharp Justin Long—but it is, at its heart, an appeal to substantive differences, not “magic”.

Coming out and saying something is magical doesn’t make it so—in fact, declarative, Orwellian language has been recently employed to great effect in deflecting perceived shortcomings—Fox News’ “Fair and Balanced”, and the Liberal-leaning “Citizens for Strength and Security” would be two prominent examples.

It’s pretty obvious that iPad is billed as “magical” specifically because it isn’t. The iPhone, for all the never-before-seen features and OMG-there’s-an-app-for-that frenzy surrounding it, never needed to be called “magical”. Anyone standing in the Moscone Center, or watching an online feed, or furiously hitting “refresh” at during that launch felt immediately, at a very basic level, how badly they needed this device.

And this is where I get back to my Mad Men quote. Good advertising evokes dissatisfaction in its target. The iPhone did that with the promise of raw functionality, but plenty of other successful Apple products didn’t. The MacBook Air, for example, was underpowered and overpriced. But it sold because a lot of people (even me, a little) needed to be the guy with the sexy, impossibly-thin laptop.

I won’t lie—when I see this video, I do want—almost need—to be the model in it. I do want to lounge about idly in a minimalistically furnished and softly lit apartment, and I do want to browse the web on a groundbreaking, futuristic device. But for me—and I think for a lot of other people—a nice couch and a pair of designer jeans would go further toward scratching that than the “magical” iPad.

As a long-time user of Apple’s products, I can tell you that the company has a horrible tendency of falling in love with its own creations.  Watch this video and tell me you don’t get a sense of déjà vu as some very technically inclined people start describing some very non-technical advantages of their latest baby. And, in case you’d forgotten/were 11 at the time, the G4 Cube was definitely not a success.

Now, maybe you’re right. Maybe enough people are already on-board with Apple’s “magic” and “revolution”—despite the fact that Apple hasn’t really pitched the revolution angle since 1998’s “Think Different” campaign—that the iPad really will resonate. I’m certainly not shorting AAPL or otherwise betting against it.

But Jesus, your arguments were terrible. I’ve been through your full piece three times, and even now, I’m not sure you weren’t being sarcastic.

I’m not out here to bust your balls. Honestly, I like the fact that you’ve got an opinion about this stuff, and that you’re willing to throw it out there. But when you don’t do your research, or check your facts, and say patently ridiculous shit, like “[Apple] is the most powerful company that’s ever existed” chances are, someone is going to call you out on it.