Apple and Advertising and Marketing Ethics
The late Steve Jobs once stated when asked why he chose the name Apple, that he came about naming it after returning from an apple farm when he was amidst a fruitarian diet, and the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating” (Associated Press, 2011). Apple is currently one of the most competitive and largest publicly traded companies in the world by market capitalization, and is widely known for its ad campaigns, marketing strategies, and profit margins worldwide. Whether or not they practice admirable business ethics is another question, and one that is worth discussing. Apple’s following is widespread, and consumers are regarded as one of the most loyal consumer bases in business. Some compare Apple consumers to a cult following, and question Apple as a monopoly in the technology and consumer electronics industry. Millions of customers continually wait outside Apple stores nationwide the day Apple releases its products. Lines and lines of consumers wait to purchase the expensive multinational company’s products, which leads you to wonder just what makes Apple such a desirable product. Advertising serves its purpose. It’s meant to gain consumers, plain and simple. And it’s our job as consumers to be knowledgeable on the existence, quality, and price of a product (Goldman, 1983). What brings people to Apple are their manipulative advertising campaigns and marketing models that target, acquire and maintain a massive consumer base. Apple does so by a number of ways. Some ad campaigns run by Apple include the following: iPod ads began running upon the release of the first iPod in 2001. The very first iPod commercial showed a middle-aged man in his apartment dancing to some music that was playing on his Apple laptop. The iPod is then shown plugged into the computer, and the man unplugs the iPod and begins dancing throughout the apartment after plugging his headphones into the iPod. At the end of the ad, it states “think different.”1 Ads then evolved over time, as Apple began to run commercials showing dancing silhouettes of people over pastel colors showing a visibly clear white iPod and headphones to the tune of artists such as JET, Eminem, U2 and Bob Dylan. The most notable issue that came out of these ad campaigns involved the shoe brand Lugz, who sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple regarding the commercial with Eminem’s chart-topping hit ‘Lose Yourself’ (Tariq, 2005). The ad, which is eerily similar to a Lugz commercial that had aired years before, features the hip hop artist in silhouette form performing his song, with the background colors and images being a near carbon-copy of the ones from that particular Lugz ad. Apple immediately removed the commercial from its websites without any explanation (Tariq, 2005). Then came the Apple vs. PC ads that began in 2006. These commercials featured actor Justin Long (Dodgeball), and John Hodgman (The Daily Show). In the commercials, Long played the role of the Mac, and Hodgman played the role of the PC. In many of the commercials, the Mac would demean the PC to give the impression that it wasn’t as cool or adequate as the Mac. The ads in collection were known as the “Get a Mac” campaign, and were discontinued in 2010 (Slivka, 2010). Seth Stevenson brings up a great point, and claims that the ad campaign is too “mean-spirited.” (Stevenson, 2006) He also maintains that “smug superiority,” no matter the differences in products, is “a bit off-putting as a brand strategy.” (Stevenson, 2006). The culture of the Mac/Apple following is one that truly is unprecedented. Leander Kahney wrote a book in 2004 titled ‘The Cult of Mac’ which gives a shocking in-depth account on Apple “fanboys” and “evangelists.” It touches on the most appalling and insane methods as to which Apple fanatics express their brand loyalty: from treating new launch/release dates like rock concerts; to obtaining tattoos of the Apple logo and shaving it into their...
Cited: Ciulla, Joanne B., Clancy W. Martin, and Robert C. Solomon. Honest Work: A Business Ethics Reader. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.
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