Apple's latest ad about working from home is generating a lot of feelings. That's especially clear to me from the feedback I got from readers after my article on it, and I think it's worth pointing out that while I stand by my assessment that the ad is playful and fun, I also stand by the fact that Apple is terribly wrong. It just turns out that the more I think about it, the more wrong I think Apple really was.
As Alex Kantrowitz writes in his Big Technology newsletter:
Anyone who's worked from home knows, the world Apple imagined is a fantasy. We use Zoom and Hangouts for video, not FaceTime. We use Slack and Teams for chat, not iMessage. Using Apple's communications software for work excludes people who don't own Apple devices, so we stick to what functions on any platform. Apple knows this, yet it still ran an ad wishing it weren't true.
Which is exactly right. I use Apple technology every single day. I have a MacBook Pro, an iPad Pro, and an iPhone 11 Pro. To be fully transparent, I'm about as loyal an Apple user as it gets. However, I've literally never once used iMessage for work. I use Slack. I've never had a team meeting using FaceTime. I use Zoom or Google Meet, just like Kantrowitz says. I don't use iCloud to share documents, I use Dropbox.
For that matter, aside from Keynote, even Apple's productivity software is remarkably lacking compared to Microsoft 365 or G Suite, especially for collaboration. And the only reason I like Keynote is that the user interface is better than PowerPoint or Google Slides. It's still pretty bad for collaboration.
Which is a problem, considering collaboration is one of the most important aspects of working remotely. Sure, there are some people who work completely independent of any team members, but they aren't using any of those Apple services for work purposes since they have no use for communication tools at all.
The reality is that Apple is living far from, well, reality. This ad is the perfect example.
As much as I love Apple, it's pretty clear that this ad is a crystal clear demonstration that the company simply doesn't get it. That should cause you to sit up and pay attention, because if a company like Apple can be this out of touch with the everyday working experience of its users, there's a good chance it's a lesson for your business as well.
Yes, the ad was cute. It also--in a playful way--reflected the experience millions of Americans are having as they try to figure out how to work from home. Except, none of those Americans are using FaceTime for work meetings because FaceTime only works on Apple products. The vast majority of Americans don't have a Mac, and they aren't holding work meetings from their iPhone just so they can use FaceTime.
Just because you say something is true, doesn't mean it is. Which seems like a pretty important lesson. Sure, Apple is trying to tell the story of how its products could be used for work from home, but in practice, that story is far from reality.
For a brand, trust is by far the most powerful asset, and when the story you tell is disconnected from the reality people experience, you lose credibility.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter how playful or fun an ad is if it's wrong. And Apple's ad is exactly that.