Even though consumers, including me, are watching less ads on TV, there are always a few that make me stop automatically jumping ahead in multiples of :30 in order to continue watching without the interruption of commercials. Most recently, I found myself drawn into a :60 spot from Apple (watch it here) who brilliantly uses Cookie Monster to promote a new iPhone feature – a voice-activated, hands-free Siri. Here’s why it works:
Rooted in a consumer insight. Whether through focus groups, in-homes, or even general observation, there is a key insight around consumers needing to use voice activation on their devices when their hands are dirty (or when they want to keep them clean), and specifically when they are cooking. The research may have identified some compensating behaviors, with consumers trying to unlock their phones with various utensils, or calling their children into the room to unlock it so the phone wouldn’t get dirty and sticky. Regardless, the insight is real, and a voice-activated Siri, the new benefit communicated in the ad, helps to satisfy a real consumer need.
Creative transformation of the insight. The magic in this spot comes from Apple’s agency TBWA/Media Arts Lab’s creative transformation of the consumer insight into compelling and entertaining drama that clearly communicates the benefit. A mom in a kitchen or Rachel Ray (or similar kitchen-based celebrity) could have worked, but it’s the nostalgic casting of Cookie Monster, his need for hands-free help from Siri, and the montage of how he passes the time waiting for his cookies to bake while listening to Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle (for what turns out to be less than a minute) that make the spot that much more engaging and entertaining.
Seamless integration of the benefits. Finally, the benefits are seamlessly woven into the drama vs. other ads that tend to hit you over the head with why their products are better or different than others. Because he’s cooking, Cookie Monster might not want to touch his phone, but he needs a timer. And to pass the time while waiting for the cookies to bake, it helps to listen to some music. When the benefits are actually integrated into, and a necessary part of, the story, they’re often more believable. In this way, the drama drives the benefit communication instead of overwhelming it, resulting in better recall of both the brand and benefit.
While it remains to be seen if Siri’s new capabilities, coupled with the recent launch of the iPhone SE can get Apple back on the track to iPhone sales growth following their first revenue decline in 13 years in Q1 2016, Apple’s marketing department is doing their job in communicating the iPhone’s new benefits in compelling fashion. I wonder what Alexa, Amazon Echo’s voice-activated assistant, thinks of the ad.
*Image courtesy of Apple