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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 11:45 GMT
Apple emerges from the Pod
Magazine's review of advertising


THE BRIEF:Remind hardcore music downloaders that the iPod is compatible with both Macs and PCs

THE MEDIUM: TV, print, outdoor, internet

THE SCRIPT: Silhouetted figures lose themselves in the music, with neon-coloured backgrounds and their all-white iPods


You can hire as many "cool hunters" and guerrilla marketers as you like, but when it comes to the youth market you've either got it or you haven't.

And, at the moment, the iPod has got it.

Although it's been on sale in the UK for two years - and the iTunes download service which gives access to thousands of songs is still only available in the US - the iPod has only hit the mainstream in the past few months, as music downloading takes off.

Makers Apple are struggling to meet demand for the sleek silver and white machines, which can store between 2,500 and 10,000 downloaded songs.

DJs are holding iPod parties - entirely of their own volition. For the twitchy, trend-obsessed youth marketer it doesn't get any better than that.

And advertising has had very little to do with it.

Subtle evolution

Unlike 99% of campaigns, the creatives' job here is simply not to blow the product's cool.

The campaign is simple and iconic, a subtle evolution of Apple's tried-and-tested formula. The only innovation is that it uses neon hues, rather than the traditional white backdrop.

Apple supremo Steve Jobs - who takes a hands-on approach to marketing - needed a little persuading to make even this revolutionary step, according to TBWA agency head Lee Clow.

The idea, he has said, was to use the iPod as a "window for the whole world to come to an Apple product".

In other words, once you've shelled out for your (all white) iPod, which by Apple standards is reasonably priced, it is only a short step to the all white (but pricey) world of the grown-up Apple user.

'Buzz marketing'

The choice of music is the key. The three biggest-selling, credible genres of the day - hip hop, techno and garage rock - are all represented in the television ads.

The tunes chosen are not necessarily the biggest-sellers, but they will be recognisable to the cognoscenti, which is what matters.

This is still, after all, an upscale product. The iPod is not aimed at the one-CD-a-year, supermarket crowd.

And the ads can easily be re-edited to fit other songs.

But with all the goodwill towards the Apple brand and the product already flying off the shelves through word-of-mouth, why spend money on advertising at all?

In fact, paid-for advertising for iPod has been tiny, by comparison with other media.

PR is everything. According to US magazine Advertising Age, the Apple publicity machine has secured 6,000 iPod and iTunes stories in major publications worldwide.

The company has put a lot of effort into so-called "buzz" marketing, making sure its equipment is seen in the right places, in the right hands.

All the advertising campaign has to do is get across the simple - but all-important - message that the iPod is PC-compatible - something you cannot always guarantee from a frothy style-magazine review.

Compiled by Brian Wheeler

Ad Breakdown is after examples of adverts you see, whether on television, in the cinema, on posters or in print. So if you see an advert you either love or hate, tell us about it using the form below.

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