A lot has been said regarding the latest Apple TV commercial, “Misunderstood“. So much in fact, it seems futile to add another opinion. Nevertheless, it also seems the masses have neglected to make (the logical) comparison to Google’s recent advertisement, “Sick Dog“. Two well timed commercials, from the two largest competitors of the mobile devices space. Watching these ads back to back is a key visual illustration of what divides these companies and their users.
Both ads feature the stereotypical slacker millennial, the type of kid that begs for a fist shake from a baby boomer. While the protagonists in both story lines are “missing out” on real life, look at the intent. Apple’s hero, perhaps a tortured artist, is diligently polishing an expression of his emotion. A trade off to create a lasting memento.
Google’s hero is blowing off his mom to play video games. A temporarily pleasing and selfish act. So before or after the “end of ad” reveal, can viewers really align with a guy who disrespects his mother? Even the mob knows you gotta respect your mother.
Without excuse, the latter comes off as malicious and cold. The former just introverted. Winner: Not Android.
The Expected Outcome
Think about the absolute worst case scenario here. The Apple kid might miss out on a nice holiday weekend. At worst, this is depressing, possibly pitiful.
Meanwhile, Google’s adorable dog Boomer could literally die. More so, the Google ad does nothing to indicate anything other than a bad outcome is awaiting Boomer. That’s morbid and for those who have ever dealt with loss, gut wrenchingly painful.
In 90 seconds or less, a storyteller can more easily recover from mildly sad than the thought of demise. More importantly, if death is going to be casually thrown out as a possibility (which isn’t a great advertising tactic to begin with), the payoff should be that much grander. Winner: Not Android.
For several years now, an official slogan of Apple could be “surprise and delight”. It has been a pillar of their philosophy, making appearances on stage, in internal memos and in press releases. This commercial is no exception. The payoff is the unexpected. Artfully spinning a negative perception into a positive experience (surprise). Combined with a heartfelt tribute to his family (delight).
On the other hand, closing with “Made for What Matters”, Google insinuates their kid makes it home to see Boomer. Exactly the outcome we’d expect for someone in his position (no surprise) by achieving the status quo (no delight). This also begs the rhetorical question, is it difficult for middle class teens to get home in times of need? Winner: Not Android.
Putting aside all other noted complaints, we have two companies selling mobile devices here. Even by 2013 standards, both the iPhone and Android device have a plethora of features to highlight. Google takes this opportunity to show a device that can alert of a cancelled flight and assist with alternative directions. Apple’s device is shown shooting and editing HD video, then streaming the final piece to a nearby TV.
Despite the various dissenting opinions floating around, the only fair comparison of Apple’s ad should be against its contemporaries. Not our idealized version of society. In light of this, there is one clear winner.