Apple ad with urinals

A major TV advertising buy, just in time for March Madness.

From Matthew Panzarino’s “Apple ad focuses on iPhone’s most marketable feature — privacy,” posted last week on TechCrunch.

Turning the ethical high ground into a marketing strategy is not without its pitfalls, though, as Apple has discovered recently with a (now patched) high-profile FaceTime bug that allowed people to turn your phone into a listening device, Facebook’s manipulation of App Store permissions and the revelation that there was some long overdue house cleaning needed in its Enterprise Certificate program.

I did find it interesting that the iconography of the “Private Side” spot very, very closely associates the concepts of privacy and security. They are separate, but interrelated, obviously. This spot says these are one and the same. It’s hard to enforce privacy without security, of course, but in the mind of the public I think there is very little difference between the two…

I mention the issues Apple has had above not as a dig, though some might be inclined to view Apple integrating privacy with marketing as boldness bordering on hubris. I, personally, think there’s still a major difference between a company that has situational loss of privacy while having a systemic dedication to privacy and, well, most of the rest of the ecosystem which exists because they operate an “invasion of privacy as a service” business.

Cue the YouTube version:

My take: Hitting the 18 to 24 demo where it pees, gossips and puts on makeup.


  1. John Konopka said:
    This is a great ad in the sense that it is bringing the issues of privacy and security to the forefront.

    This was a large part of the discussion at the recent shareholders meeting.

    I recall when the computers I worked on didn’t have passwords. Nowadays privacy and security in our digital devices has become essential. You could loose your life savings or your home due to weak security.

    I don’t view this as a solved issue. We are clearly in transition. Apple has done well in this area, but we need to hold their feet to the fire to keep plugging leaks as they are discovered.

    I’d like to see Apple make this a more visible and accessible aspect of the organization. Perhaps we could have a VP of privacy and security? This topic is only going to become more important. It will not go away. Apple should get ahead of the curve and formalize this position in a senior VP with a staff.

    This department would set standards for Apple products and lobby internally for Apple to be excellent in this area. They could also be involved in politics to lobby for stricter standards for all companies to follow as well as suggesting how to set practical standards.

    March 17, 2019
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:

      I enjoyed reading your post. I believe concerns for security and consumer privacy at Apple are pervasive throughout the company and it’s a highly public issue for CEO Tim Cook. I’m not sure creating an SVP position for a security and privacy chief at this time is necessary. However, this could change in time.

      Apple is often criticized for perceived high product prices and a perceived slowness in opening its platforms for 3rd-party services. But privacy and security don’t come cheap and deliberate processes to maintain consumer privacy take time and a vigilant approach to safeguarding the interests of the company’s product and services consumers.

      I think consumer awareness is among the first and most critical steps in safeguarding the interests of consumers. Informed decision making in my view is at least as important as regulatory efforts to ensure greater security and privacy. Regulatory efforts can often overshoot and create complexities and compliance requirements that hinder innovation.

      Positioning privacy as a value-added “service” from Apple may be among the most effective approaches to spurring competition among device makers and platform operators to ensure greater consumer privacy.

      For those who are interested in protecting their privacy, Apple can make a compelling case for its products and services. For those that choose to disregard personal privacy in the pursuit of lower product prices or “free” services, few can complain they didn’t know their privacy is at greater risk by buying cheap or actively choosing “free” stuff.

      In the end, “free” comes with a big price tag.

      March 17, 2019
      • David Emery said:
        It would be an interesting marketing strategy for Apple to say “Our devices are not partially funded by advertisers and data collection agencies.” That would directly go to the “privacy ain’t free” aspect and address the (mis)belief “Apple products cost too much.”

        March 17, 2019
      • John Konopka said:
        Acouple things motivated me.

        One, as I mentioned, I’ve seen the transition from no passwords to the current situation where we use biometrics to protect our online life.

        I’ve also seen the transition from having all your records on paper to where almost everything is digital and online which makes security imperative. Apple is talking about putting your medical records on your iPhone which must be done right.

        This is only going to become more important. Hackers are gaining better tools all the time.

        At the recent shareholders meeting this was a large topic of discussion. Tim Cook made a strong point of how important this was to Apple and the customers.

        March 18, 2019

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