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. Its all part of John Dvorak’s vision. There’s no reason to switch users to a Mac. Apple’s bringing OS X to Windows users!

    10 million copies of OS X sold to Windows users at $100 each comes to $1 billion in revenue. Thats a lot more dough than their hardware could generate.

  2. Hywel,

    I read it as it appears to the viewer that the subject is speaking to an interviewer (off camera) when they are actually looking into the camera. My guess is there is a parascope type device attached to the front of the camera that off-sets the image a bit, and a fake lense on the front of the camera that the subject would naturally be drawn to look directly at. Kind of like having the person look into a fake camera when the real camera is hidden just off to one side.


  3. Dang. Apple was finally gonna start advertising again and abandoned it??!!?? I hope they have something even better in the works cuz now is the time to hit hard while the hittings good. All the planets are coming into alignment for Apple to gain real market share. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE advertise Apple and dispel some of the myths that are holding back a lot of people from making the switch.

  4. Hey steve, pass the crack pipe….


    Soon enough you wont have to switch shit… other than your os.

    Switch .. not to a mac, but to OSX…. ?

    don’t abandon the hardware steve…. Make them bow before you… dont feel the pressuse, because there is none, Make them feel the pressure..

  5. Because the switch ads were about switching to Macintosh. Apple is going to open OS X to WinTel boxen and the Mac is dead.

    I’ll be the last to believe it. Just as I was the last person to believe Apple would switch to Intel processors.

    Is the Mac dead? What about the support issues? This is a very risky and dangerous road. Will Intel develop new chips without all the x86 legacy once OS X takes over the desktop?

    Is this a really big flag that says a seachange is about to hit the computer industry?


  6. “10 million copies of OS X sold to Windows users at $100 each comes to $1 billion in revenue. Thats a lot more dough than their hardware could generate.”

    Apple made $1.5billion from Mac sales last quarter.

  7. I wonder if Microsoft started waving license fees in front of Apple for their iPod interface or threatened to pull the plug on Office.

    When you think of it, the new ad campaign was really an anti-Microsoft campaign. Apple was scared to death to contribut to the anti-trust effort of Microsoft.

    Apple really doesn’t get directly antagonistic with Microsoft all that much.

  8. Switch? The switch to Intel was a big big big big mistake–
    ask the people who already switched to Mac why they already switched to Mac–It wasnt because Mac had Intel inside—or because they wanted
    Apple to switch to Intel inside–NOPE–Its cause they didnt want to be a clone–its because they wanted to be different–its because they wanted to be a part of a developing history of innovation and creativity–its because they wanted to own a Mac. Oh –I know its the OSX–forget the chips—forget the hardware—turn out the lights.

  9. Malthus,

    If your stats are correct, then you got me. But how much would Apple make off of Mac sales if they still made $1 billion from sales of OS X to the masses?

    My guess is $1.5 billion. Or maybe only $1.4 billion. What I’m saying is that sales of OS X to the masses won’t affect the hardware sales. People buy Macs because they like OS X, but they also realize how nice the hardware is. I, for one, will never purchase another PC. The quality of a Mac is much better than what is found on PC’s. Plus, it is my belief that whatever hardware sales Apple would lose by selling OS X to the masses would be made up by people switching to Apple Computers in the long run.

  10. Apple has always spent their TV ad money rather foolishly by not producing any or running what good ads that they did here and there. I don’t think there are any TV ads for the Apple Stores….
    Apple needs TV and print ads that tell about the products, what they are, what they do and how they are better than competitors’ hardware and software.
    Even crummy Gateway has many more spots on TV than Apple ever has had.
    Gosh…I wish somebody in corprate would get a clue!

  11. Can we make Lisa switch – off?

    Lisa, if you want to be different, then buy an SGI machine and paint it day-glo pink. Have you started your threatened class-action suit against Apple yet?

    If you think the switch to Intel is a big mistake, then don’t buy one. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

    Frankly, folks buy an Apple becuase of the total package. The total package will remain compelling regardless of the CPU. If you think the total package has diminished because of the CPU change – prove it.

  12. Actually, I’m glad to hear this. Aside from the Feiss and Will Ferrell commercials, the rest were pretty useless. Typical Apple ads, they changed the face of advertising but did nothing for Apple’s bottom line. I’d rather they tried something completely new. I think they should give their account to a fledgling agency made up of young, hip 20-somethings instead of the stuffed shirts at Chiat/Day. Fresh ideas and all that.

    Better yet, the best advertising they could do is to have Steve be the star of “The Apprentice: Steve Jobs”. That would be awesome! He would be screaming at the would-be-apprentices, asking them if they’re virgins or when they last dropped acid. OK, maybe it would have worked better 20 years ago when he was actually like that, but I’m sure it would still be fun to watch.

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