Why Apple’s new ‘Designed in California’ ads are strategic for the USA

“There was a recent report that Apple’s current ‘Designed in California’ ads were not a hit with consumers and various writers who reported on this urged Apple to change them and to start bringing out cool ads again,” Tim Bajarin writes for TechPinions. “While the ads may not seem cool to some, for Apple these ads are very strategic and will run as long as it takes for Apple to hit home the message that the fruit of Apple’s labor starts here and regardless of where they are manufactured, these are American bred products.”

“Apple has been reading the tea leaves and has seen how Congress and many of the American people are going down a track to try and bring more manufacturing back to the US,” Bajarin writes. “They also understand that creating US designed products will be more strategic to the USA’s long term vision of making the US much more relevant in a time of globalization.”

Bajarin writes, “You may think that I am crazy suggesting this, but even Apple’s competitors are seeing that if the products are designed and manufactured over here that they may be seen more favorably by consumers. More importantly, it could give them favor with the US Government and the American people who are getting more and more concerned that the US is loosing its edge, especially to S. Korea and China.”

Read more in the full article here.

43 Comments

    1. But, but, but . . . isn’t discriminating between “losing” and “loosing” a BAD thing? Isn’t “loosing” instead of the correct word in this example standard fare for today’s professional writers?

      After all, virtually no one can correctly use “its” and “it’s” today, and anyone who points out the difference is vilified as a grammar nazi or some such pejorative.

      Heck, close enough IS good enough, right?

      1. It’s the laziness of writers who depend on spell check combined with the penny-pinchingness of managers who see no need for editors. Next thing you know, major newspapers will quit right-justifying text so they can skimp on hyphenation; and don’t be surprised if they fire all their photographers—telling reporters on location to just use the cameras in their mobile phones

        1. hannahjs, justifying type left or right has no implications for hyphenation. In today’s (2009?) Pages you turn off hyphenation for a paragraph with a checkbox. InDesign uses a similar setting. Going back to my days in newspapers (1970s & 80s) the typesetting systems we used back then had a tag that turned on hyphenation and another that turned it off. I offer this up with respect!

        2. The reporter/phone camera thing already happened in Chicago. Daring Fireball had a great comparison of the Stanley Cup parade in which the Tribune had a great well-lit full-page picture of the Cup, and the Sun-Times had almost a passport-sized photo surrounded by oversized text to compensate for the lack of photo quality.

          But I guess times are tough…

      1. It makes even more sense for fiction writers to make the careful distinction…for instance, I imagine Robin Hood’s Merry Men “loosing all their arrows in the attack” is preferable to “losing all their arrows in the attack”

    2. If a character in a Shakespearean play “loosed his edge” he’d be drawing his sword, a perfectly useful and correct usage of the English language. Unfortunately, I suspect that is not what the author meant to say.

        1. I seem to have somewhere developed the probably useless ability to copy the styles of authors like Hemingway, McCarthy, Steinbeck, and HST. I don’t however, intend to write books that mimic their style and plots, and undercut their book sales, as Samsung would do if it decided to enter the book publishing business.

  1. Point #1: Would I rather support an American Company (Apple) over a Korean company (Samsung)? Heck yes, anyway, anyhow.

    Point#2: If someone has to “explain” why a marketing campaign is effective, it’s not very effective.

    1. I disagree (with the second point).

      The marketing campaign doesn’t have to appear effective in order to be. The marketing message of Apple’s latest “Made in California” campaign is subliminal and very powerful. It is so easy to overlook it, and apparently, so many people are. The point is, when you look at the campaign with an effort to analyse it for its effectiveness, it fails. However, its subconscious message (brand awareness) is extremely powerful and works much better than any of the Samsung’s “our phone can do all this” messages.

      Remember, one of the most successful advertising campaigns of all time (“Think Different”) never mentioned Apple or any of their products; it showed black-and-white images of some people from the past, with Richard Dreyfus reading some narration.

    2. I just saw a tweet the other day from Benedict Evans (who does some really good analysis ala Horace Dediu) where he posited that “designed in California” was a much more effective slogan worldwide than Google-Motorola’s recent copy ending with “made in the USA”.

      As a Canadian living abroad, I tend to agree. While “made in the USA” evokes nationalistic pride within America but little outside it, “designed in California” speaks to that can-do spirit that made America what it is today, and as Steve said “pushed the human race forward”.

      Apple’s campaign won’t resonate with everyone. But for those people who value the effort to make things not just different but better, it will speak to them.

      1. The only problem is that within the US the perception of California is that it has nearly become a separate country (with a failing economy … and so far left it may be falling into the Pacific soon). Outside the US it probably has a better effect than “made in the USA”. I hope all had a joyous Independence Day!

        1. I think the phrasing exudes a little more Silicon Valley, and a little less Sacremento. Design and due diligence as opposed to debates, delayed decisions and deficits. 😉

    3. Explanation is only necessary when the point is missed. With these ads it’s not missed, but it’s subliminal. The problem is that people don’t know that the point was not missed. The point of these ads is to point out how ubiquitous Apple products are, and how comfortable the Apple experience has become. Pointing out that Apple products make doing wonderful things so effortless that we forget about the technology involved and concentrate on the joy of creating and sharing IS necessary because we never think about the technology involved. We don’t have to be experts. We don’t have to fiddle with it, or jump through hoops to make it work. It just works, and we don’t even have to think about it. The ad reminds us to think about how easy it’s become..

  2. [“the US Government and the American people who are getting more and more concerned that the US is loosing its edge, especially to S. Korea and China.”]

    Only because of the crap reporting by CNBC, its trolls and ignorant hit seeking blogs.

  3. I am german and find it idiotic that there are so many iHaters aka Fandroids in the US. But even this ad wont change the sick mind of an Fandroid. Their loyalty ist Apple Hate, nothing else.

  4. That makes an ad effective has little to do with the metric of “informative,” which is what the Apple ads rated low on. It has to do with “likeability.” Here’s a reference: http://www.psychology.nottingham.ac.uk/staff/ddc/c8cxpa/further/Dissertation_examples/Rimoldi_08.pdf
    Android fans assign, and perhaps much to their dismay, Apple is one of the most “likeable” brans in the world, right up ther with Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. In spite of what anyone personally might think about the advisability of drinking a Coke or eating a Big Mac, or buying an Apple product, for that matter, these highly “likeable” ads work. Samsung cannot advertise this way because they are not “likeable,”

    1. Sheesh… full of typos…

      What makes an ad effective has little to do with the metric of “informative,” which is what the Apple ads rated low on. It has to do with “likeability.” Here’s a reference: http://www.psychology.nottingham.ac.uk/staff/ddc/c8cxpa/further/Dissertation_examples/Rimoldi_08.pdf
      Android fans asside, and perhaps much to their dismay, Apple is one of the most “likeable” brands in the world, right up there with Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. In spite of what anyone personally might think about the advisability of drinking a Coke or eating a Big Mac, or buying an Apple product, for that matter, these highly “likeable” ads work. Samsung cannot advertise this way because they are not “likeable,”

  5. Here we go again, another war mongering journanalist.

    A “designed in the USA” battle cry to bolster their position in the face of the globalization process, yeah right, newsflash the globalization process is not a war so stop being a UShole, and get with the program. Try designed on planet earth, that’s what the globalization process is about.

    What arrogance to display the idea that Samsung could soon say their products too are “designed in California” without even considering that Samsung would more like come up with a slogan like “copied in Seoul”. You really have to have your eyes magnetized to the American navel to be that narrow minded.

    The author has one thing on the ball though, the realization that globalization is a much bigger threat to the US. I mean a bunch of people from around the world, (oh no, some of them won’t be American, all those different countries (oh no, some of them won’t be American countries), getting along together peacefully (what, no war, this is a MASSIVE threat to the USA) and creating synergy by integrating ideas and effort.

    If there is one thing that is a threat to America it is peace.

    1. Seems a rather harsh critique towards talented device manufacturers who simply like where they live. Apple isn’t part of the United States government. An example of this can be seen by how the US govt. is allowing Samsung and Google to proliferate off of Apple’s patents via court molasses. I like your global viewpoint, but think your pointing finger is dancing all over the place in need of compass.

      1. Thanks for your post correctu and I’ll be happy to address some of your points.

        First of all I am not directing any harsh critique towards talented device manufacturers, notably Apple who simply like where they live. I’ve stated it before that I love the add and “Designed by Apple in California” gets a thumbs up in my books.

        Nor in this case am I directing any critique, at least directly at the US government or Apple.

        My finger pointing and I’ve made this clear right from my first sentence is towards the war mongering, navel gazing, xenophobic journanalist(s). There may be an extension by degrees to what those jouranalists represent, that’s left up to the readers like you.

        Simply put there are two main ways to be great, help people along. Bringing them up to or beyond your level doesn’t make you any greater than what you are but by what you have done. It makes for a great “All Global” team.

        The other way is to kick people down, it makes for great fearful leadership and it makes you greater by what you are but now by what you have done (since it usually involves war, torture and so on). That’s the viewpoint I hear from so many of these jouranalists. It is not really the world I’d like to see in the future.

        Thanks for your input, hope I cleared up some ideas. I’m glad you see the positive aspects of the globalization process. I don’t think that the author of the piece portrayed that very well.

  6. And if enough of the press says this, then the weak minded will follow their mantra. The press assumes that there is a large number of weak minded people reading their crap.

  7. I think the ads suck. Even if some guy thinks they’re strategic for the US, it doesn’t matter. The whole world sees the ads. There are no borders anymore. And nobody gives a shit about the US or what they think about Apple.

    The end is especially brutal, “And it means everything”… the way the guy said it… it sounds so cheesy.

    1. “The whole world sees the ads.”

      No.

      Apple is not paying for the television commercials to run in markets outside the U.S. so the only way a person outside the U.S. can see them is to seek them out and view them on their computer. That represents an entirely different — and vastly smaller — audience than US TV viewers, who were shown the ads without action on their part.

      “There are no borders anymore.”

      Except when you try to cross them without identification. Even electronic borders are aplenty. Try purchasing a song in the Irish iTunes Store with a US-based account. Try viewing US-Sino relations committee hearings on CSPAN in China (okay, I make that up because I can’t transport myself to China to see what they are censoring, but we both know they do).

      And as your post clearly demonstrates, there are thought borders, too. If “nobody” gave a shit about the US there wouldn’t be Al Jazeera broadcasts of extremists calling for the demise of the great satan. If “nobody” gave a shit about the US there wouldn’t be trade delegations from every country that exports goods and services coming to this country to woo policy makers.

      And if “nobody gave a shit about the US or what they think about Apple,” then the article would never have been published and you would not have cared to post your feelings about it.

      1. Not true, Jim. The ads are playing across Canada, too.

        A little perspective on the “California” spin from a Canadian perspective … Apple’s products have ALWAYS said they’re “Designed by Apple in California”. This isn’t just a catch-phrase for the current campaign. It plays as good in 2013as it did in 1984.

        And it DOES mean a lot that it’s designed in California rather than the orient!

        1. Thanks, beziblogs! I stand corrected. It’d be nice to know where all Apple is running the ad, just as insight into their thinking. Did ?Chrysler? run their “Imported from Detroit” commercials on your stations? In the US it was a cute way to remind folks that their cars are made “here” and that against common wisdom, quality doesn’t only come from imported vehicles.

          1. Jim:

            It actually doesn’t matter if Apple just runs the ads on TV in the US. It’s irrelevant. As benziblogs points out, they do run in Canada.

            But the reality is the world doesn’t exist with TV as its major medium anymore. It’s the Internet. And these ads are sprayed all over the web.

            All major tech blogs and media outlets have reported on it. It’s all over YouTube.

            I don’t have TV and have been in Italy for the past month and I found out about the ads through the Web… I watched them on the Web. In fact, like more and more people, I don’t have cable.

            There are no borders anymore…

      2. Oh, I don’t give a shit about the US or what they think of Apple. That’s my point. That’s what the ad elicits from me. I don’t live there and don’t care about your country. What I give a shit about is the products I buy that they’re good and that they work.

        It’s completely irrelevant to me that the ad is touting designed in California. Just because something is designed in California doesn’t mean it’s any good. And if this ad is meant to rally the troops within Apple, it’s doubly failed for a consumer like me who doesn’t work at Apple.

        It’s more relevant that they’re made in China because of how oppressive it all is. No easy answers on this front.

        So I’m not alone in this. The reason people are talking about it is precisely because the people don’t give a shit that it was designed in California/the US. We know it was made in China.

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