Apple's Post-Jobs Ads: Underscoring Their Need for Vision
June 09, 2014
Todd Henderson

Apple's Post-Jobs Ads: Underscoring Their Need for Vision

It’s hard to link just one person to a company’s every success. Of course it takes a team to achieve goals. But if there’s one person who is inexorably linked with the success of his company, it’s Steve Jobs. His visionary talent took Apple from a computer company with very little market share to a lifestyle company that built products you have to have. But since passing the torch before his untimely death to Tim Cook, Apple’s focus has somewhat gone off the rails.

Cook has consistently insisted that he would run the company in his own way. But is that way really the best way? Cook’s timing, his charisma, and his decisiveness has never been that of Jobs—though, admittedly, he has said he wasn’t a visionary like Jobs.

But wait. being a CEO is about having vision. It’s about looking into the future for the target and rallying employees and partners to meet that goal. It’s about making sure that everyone in your organization is fit to meet goals, on the right path, and moving with head held high.

Under Cook, however, something is amiss. Apple’s agency, TBWAChiatDay recently suggested that Apple might want to reevaluate its brand likability and employee behavior, because it wasn’t faring as well as it thought in the epic Apple vs. Samsung smartphone war.

That their agency had to point out something like this—whether it’s true or not—underscores a lack of focus and a thin grasp on the realities of Apple’s place in the market. Even worse, Apple’s new ads, and many others of the post-Jobs era, are not connecting with the audience.

The ads are now more about product features than emotion. While functionality is always nice to highlight, it alone cannot sell high-end, expensive luxury items. Emotion must be encapsulated in the message. They can’t merely make us want the product, they must make us need it.

That’s what was so groundbreaking about Jobs and Apple of the 2000’s. They made products that you didn’t know you needed until you saw them. Then you absolutely had to get your hands on them or else. I doubt that Jobs himself reviewed every single print or broadcast ad that went out the door, but it was his leadership—his vision—that focused everyone inside the organization to build amazing ads.

Where is that Apple? Where is that leadership that mobilized thousands of employees to a common cause?

Check out some of the ads that define Apple, then and now, at the link below: