The Teflon Brand: Why Apple Enjoys Steady, Positive PR
[By Jason Mollica]
There are few brands that enjoy the amount of good public relations that Apple does these days. It’s hard to believe that nearly 20 years ago, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. If not for the financial investment of Microsoft, we would most likely never have seen the innovations that we use so much today.
Since those lean years in the 1990s, it has been a steady stream of financial, marketing, and public relations successes. From the unveiling of the iMac, to the innovation of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, Apple has seen its name held in high regard. According to a 2012 report by CNBC, over 50% of Americans own at least one Apple product. That’s a statistic that not many companies, worldwide, can say is true.
But what exactly has the company done to deserve this consistent stream of excellent PR? For one thing, they’ve been incredibly forward thinking. Consider what the iPhone did for mobile. In Apple’s first attempt at a phone, it combined the video iPod onto a device, the likes of which people had not seen before. When you bring revolutionary products to the public, they’ll be apt to listen. When you then do it consistently, people will do more than listen; they begin to believe, especially with their wallets.
I always find the Apple unveilings to have great insight into what executives at the company are thinking. The original Macworld event morphed into Apple Events. They, of course, started with the late Steve Jobs. Each event generates a certain amount of buzz that any PR pro or marketer would love to have for their client. Imagine having the whole world waiting by their computers to see what product you are about to launch.
These events also do something else that keeps investors and consumers excited. Apple is selling dreams, not products. Customers, first and foremost, care about themselves, and by helping them find out what it is they want, they will latch onto the brand. Jobs, and now Tim Cook, do not use focus groups or wait for people to make demands. Instead, Apple releases must-have products before people even know they will want them.
Apple also uses slogans that aren’t kitschy. They get you to actually ponder an action or generate a reaction. From 1997 to 2002, the company used “Think Different.” While it also mirrored the direction Jobs was taking Apple, it also used imagery to help sell a way of thinking. It showed photos of people like Pablo Picasso, Jim Henson, and Gandhi. All were known for doing something positive, or impactful, whether it was music, art, or human rights. Apple was saying to the public, if you believe in something that is different than the norm, you could change the world.
On April 24, Apple will release its latest innovation, the Apple Watch. Tim Cook touted this an Apple Event last year as the “next chapter in Apple’s story.” With those words, Cook had consumers and developers waiting to hear what the Watch could do. As of last week, pre-sales reached one million during the first weekend of availability. That’s even before people could actually try them on and take the Watch for a proverbial spin.
Developers are also clamoring to get their apps on the Apple Watch. Hotel chains W and Starwood will allow you to enter your room door with the watch. Target’s Apple Watch app will allow you to talk to it. In turn, it will show you where in store the product is located.
Will this long stretch of good, steady, positive PR continue for Apple? If they continue dreaming, it certainly will.