Apple CEO Steve Jobs' announcement of the next generation iPhone (which will hit Australia on 11 July) will be followed by a barrage of stylish and witty ads. And that those ads will be followed by an avalanche of snarky spoofs on YouTube.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Apple's marketing department must be blushing. The company's television ad campaigns are the subject of hundreds if not thousands of parodies on the Internet. Lots of them are — let's be honest — painfully amateurish and not all that funny. But some really get it. They take Apple's minimalist look, its deliberately casual style, and its laidback sincerity, and turn everything on its head. Sometimes the target is Apple itself, while other times Apple's competitors are in the crosshairs — and still other times, the idea is just to have a laugh.
Here are some of the greatest hits from the Apple-mockumercial archives.
Apple 'Switch' Campaign: Crash Different
In 2002, Apple launched its "Switch" ad campaign, in which a person against a white backdrop talked about how easy it was to change from a Windows machine to a Mac. A major part of each ad featured the former Windows user bemoaning their PC's limits and flaws.
Hunter Crestle didn't buy the ad's premise, because he knew that using a Mac can be just as frustrating. In his 3.5-minute spoof, Crestle rants and raves about his Mac, complaining about system lockups, interface confusion, and update hassles. Interspersed are shots of him drop-kicking an iMac and otherwise violating Apple hardware.
Microsoft's ZunePhone: A Rotary-Dial iPhone Knockoff
We've all heard the old joke: "If Microsoft built cars..." But what if the company made an iPhone knockoff?
In a parody of the Apple iPhone ad campaign "This Is How," this fake ad shows Bill Gates's finger taking us on a tour of the fictitious Microsoft ZunePhone. We learn how ZunePhone users make a call (using a digital rotary dial), how the ZunePhone's camera works (think Polaroid), and how often the ZunePhone will be delayed.
Hello, I'm a 'Get a Mac' Parody Ad
The current "Get a Mac" advertising campaign, with actors John Hodgman and Justin Long, just might be the most parody-inducing advertisement Apple has ever created. In most cases, though, the actual ads are a lot funnier than the parodies.
For my money the most innovative imitation comes from Novell, which launched this pro-Linux ad in March 2007. The ad features both a Mac and a PC claiming to be the best. Halfway through, a woman who represents Linux introduces herself, much to the chagrin of both "number one" operating systems.
Who knew Linux was female?
Getting Feist-y With the Nano
Nothing is more annoying than buying digital gear only to find out the next day that it's obsolete. That's how many Apple customers feel about the company's rapid-fire release of new iPods. No other parody of an Apple commercial pays tribute to such product-cycle angst better than this one from Mad TV.
The Ad That Launched a Thousand Parodies
In 2006, Apple's ad campaign for new colorful iPod Nanos featured silhouettes of peppy dancers gyrating against solid colors to the sound of upbeat music. The ads were instantly popular not only with Apple fans but also with people looking for something to mock. And mock they did.
You could spend a day watching the seemingly endless tributes to the Nano ads. One of the best parodies, posted to YouTube by user heartofgold42, is sort of the polar opposite of the original Apple ad. Instead of featuring a high-energy song and a sprightly dancer, the parody shows the silhouette of the nerdy character Napoleon Dynamite, from the movie of the same name, quietly shuffling to Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat."