I recently rediscovered Apple’s 2008 commercial for the original Macbook Air, and was surprised to find that it packed the same visual, emotional appeal that it did five years ago – even in the post-PC, iPad-centric era.
In contrast, Microsoft’s frenetic ad for Superbowl 2013 was by many accounts bizarre, but functional inasmuch as it conveys the basic message of the Surface Pro: it’s business-friendly, has USB ports, and features a full, flexible keyboard that makes a satisfying click when plugged in. Also, your boss’s assistant might beatbox.
Compare the coordinated chaos of Microsoft’s venture to Apple’s signature – and now, oft mocked – aesthetic of a plain white background, a well-manicured hand, and a surprising reveal – often set to perky music.
Microsoft’s ad screams “we put the fun in functionality” whereas Apple relies on the beauty of the product for a more emotional, if less pragmatic, sell. What’s interesting is that neither commercial has dialogue, and both use music to sell their product in compelling ways. Plus, it’s pretty remarkable how well the Air commercial holds up over time.