Report: Apple pulls plug on huge Errol Morris iPod Switch campaign

“Three months after shooting a new Switch campaign with legendary director Errol Morris, Apple has pulled the plug before the first ads even hit television,” Ryan Katz reports for Think Secret. “Apple had been planning for upwards of a year to produce a new series of Switch ads following in the footsteps of the initial campaign, which featured the stories of ordinary people who had switched from Windows to Mac.”

“The new Switch campaign was to emphasize the iPod’s ‘halo effect,’ capturing stories of people who connected with Apple for the first time with an iPod and went on to purchase a Mac.” Katz reports, “It came as a surprise to many parties involved when word arrived late Wednesday that Apple had officially abandoned the new Switch campaign for good. ‘An unbelievable amount of money was invested in this campaign, you wouldn’t believe it,’ one source commented. ‘It was supposed to be a huge, huge campaign.’ Like the original campaign, the new Switch ads were destined for television, print, billboards, and buses.”

Full article with the gory details here.
Morris directed Apple’s popular “Switch” campaign ads, which consisted of vignettes about real people who had abandoned PCs for Macs, including the famous or infamous, depending on your point of view, “Ellen Feiss” ad. The original “Switch” or “Real People” ads were filmed using a special camera developed by Morris, called the “Interrotron,” which uses mirrors to make interview subjects appear to be speaking to an interviewer when they are actually facing the camera. Quicktime movies of the Ellen Feiss ad and all of the other Apple “Switch” ads here.

Our favorite “Switch” ad never aired except at Macworld Expo NYC: Will “I’m a porn actor” Ferrell

Related articles:
Apple “Switch” ad director Errol Morris producing new Apple Computer TV ad campaign – June 14, 2005
Forrester analysts: Apple should advertise Mac OS X Tiger on television and in movie theaters – April 29, 2005
Why doesn’t Apple advertise Mac OS X on TV? – April 12, 2005
Apple asks for new ‘Switcher’ stories – February 16, 2005
Switchers Icon Set debuts for Mac OS X; includes Ellen Feiss icon – December 26, 2002
Feissmania hits new peak; Ellen’s first interview is now online – November 21, 2002
Feissmania has no bounds – October 02, 2002


  1. Yeah…what are we switching to?! Already switched… ha!

    I seriously wonder what happened here. We’ve been begging Apple to advertise more, and they won’t.

    I’ve pretty much gotten over any notions that people need to switch. Sure, I want more people to switch to Mac, as more sales=more revenue=better R&D=better products, but part of the Mac mystique is exclusivity. It’s not about elitism or feeling better than others, but just the sense that you are part of something that is significantly changing the way we live our lives.

    /end philosophical tangent

    People should switch, but if they don’t, who cares. We’ll still have a kick-ass OS at the end of the day, getting better by the second.

  2. Poor response from test audiences?

    A few Errol Morris films have recently been released on DVD, and are available on Netflix. I recommend them, especially “The Thin Blue Line.” Amazing, and an absolute *must see* if you are a documentary fan.

  3. “special camera developed by Morris, called the “Interrotron,” which uses mirrors to make interview subjects appear to be speaking to an interviewer when they are actually facing the camera”

    I know what you’re trying to say, but that’s a very bad way to put it. It appears to the subject that they are talking to an interviewer, but it appear to the viewer that they are talking to the camera. You don’t need a special camera to “make interview subjects appear to be speaking to an interviewer”, now do you ?

  4. Well, Apple better get some kind of ads out. It’s back to school time. Students need iBooks and iPods! If I were Apple I would also offer a 12″ PowerBook geared for college students. It will look more grown up and less feminine for male students. Or a new color choice for the iBook.

    Intel and or Microsoft may have had something to do with pulling the plug on this. Either that or the timing was not right. Not until the Intel chips are ready to go for mass production of new Macs.

    I think Apple may have other big surprises in store for us. There is always a plan B. And that may be a lot better than plan A.

  5. No need for switches, or buttons for that matter. Apple will soon unveil a new type of “ROM” — read operator’s mind. Hywel is already practicing up. (“I know what you’re trying to say…”

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