Home > Ideas > Why Apple's 'Think Different' campaign worked so well (Jul '16)

Why Apple's 'Think Different' campaign worked so well

This is the text version of this infographic.

All good advertising follows a single law. The complex variations in medium, composition, typography and content are just the means of successfully fulfilling it. This law requires no statistical proof. It is fundamentally human. When you follow it your ads work and when you don't, they don't.

The following infographic explains the law of advertising and shows it in operation in one of the best campaigns of all time; Apple's Think Different campaign.

Apple logo

Here’s to the crazy ones...

Bob Dylan image from the Think Different campaign.

The Law of Advertising:

You get people to desire your brand or product by showing them a model who desires it.

How it works:

Model desires brand, user imitates model, user desires brand.

The whole dynamic:

Triangle of model desires brand, user imitates model, user desires brand.

All ads present a (role) model:

Every medium of communication carries a message from one person to another. When it’s not clear who the model is, it’s the person sending the message. When there’s little or no information about this person (like in a simple text link) the end-user dynamically constructs him or her based on cues provided (typography, tone, language etc.).

Example feminine voice media.

Necessary conditions:

Model must be admirable and their desire must be authentic.

Necessity of authenticity:

Unauthentic desire doesn’t get imitated. Most ads are tainted by the advertiser’s desire to sell their own product. This has the unhappy consequence of producing the opposite of the desired effect. Instead of creating a desire to buy, the user is exposed to (and infected with) a desire to sell. Strangely, bad advertising encourages entrepreneurship (i.e. competition) rather than sales.

If the model is infected with a desire to sell the user imitates that instead of the brand.

Necessity of admirability:

A model that is not admirable will not be instinctively imitated. This means that no desire (directed towards the brand or otherwise) will be generated in the user.

The user will not imitate a model who they don't admire.

How the Think Different campaign applied the law and overcame the challenges:

Collage of The Greats from the Think Different campaign.

Some of them are living and some of them aren’t. But the ones that aren’t, you know that if they’d ever have used a computer it would have been a Mac.

Steve Jobs

High-level mechanism:

Diagram of how Apple uses great models to triangulate desire toward itself in the Think Different campaign.

The figures used – here referred to as “The Greats” – are all universally admirable. This means that any desire they express is sure to be imitated by the viewing public. But directly ventriloquising deceased artists and thinkers would certainly come off as unauthentic and contrived. Only an indirect approach could ever work.

Indirection through admiration:

The only thing explicitly communicated by Apple is their admiration. This message, itself communicated authentically by an admirable model, creates (or redoubles) the user’s admiration for these figures.

Diagram explaining how Apple expresses admiration for great models in the Think Different campaign and gets the user to imitate this admiration.

Expressing identity through admiration:

Admiration is essentially the ‘desire to be’. So Apple is essentially saying ‘These are our models, we copy them.’ The logical conclusion of effective copying is to become identical with the original. Taking the message to its conclusion one reads ‘We are a copy’.

Authentic admiration => ‘We copy’ => ‘We are a copy’

“The theme of the campaign is Think Different... It’s honoring the people who think different and move this world forward. And it is what we are about. It touches the soul of this company.”

Steve Jobs

‘Spiritual descendant’ of the Greats:

The more authentic and convincing the admiration, the greater the implication of identity. One is made to feel that Apple is a translated copy of these people and that they would actually use Apple given the opportunity. This is the final step that completes the mechanism and makes the campaign so powerful.

Diagram showing effect of how the Think Different campaign implies the greats would use Apple which means the user imitates their desire for Apple.

Liked this infographic? Here's another: Advertising Strategies Used by the World's Biggest Brands.

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by Aftab Singh, Founder of AdLove (@affalytics) | Ideas home