I have long said, and continue to believe, that Apple’s approach to marketing is as precise as it is predictable; as strategic as it is tactical; as powerful, in its very effective use of PR, as it is poetic, in its advertising that ranges from unforgettable to iconic; that “one more thing” is more than a euphemism from a corporate demigod, a CEO simultaneously revered and reviled for his personality — for the intensity of his reality distortion field — which is material for every would-be scribe, who seeks to depict Steve Jobs as a master of minimalism or an ideologue — ruthless, mean, cunning and cutthroat — unwilling to acknowledge the paternity of his daughter, stubborn in his refusal to accept the verdict of his critics, and even ambiguous about life in a world of human error and imperfection.
And yet, here I sit — iPhone in hand — typing my response to your summary of Apple’s brand of PR. Am I, therefore, one of the company’s blind loyalists, who will prostrate himself before that black-and-white image of Jobs as the fifth Beatle, his rimless glasses and contemplative image lit by a thousand luminescent screens held aloft, in tribute, for his passing?
Will I gather round the makeshift memorials, and transfer my mourning to the closed communities of Apple enthusiasts, as we ask ourselves, What would Steve do?
In a word: No.
I recognize the formula to Jobs’s success, its reliance on rumors and dogged reporting by bloggers about forthcoming products and services, followed by the company’s announcement of a big event, thereby fueling more online speculation about this milestone, culminating in the arrival of the appointed day — with Jobs bestriding the stage like an emcee, master of ceremonies and curious man-child — and concluding with the rollout of an advertising campaign for the latest device.
That is Apple’s communication plan, right down to the oxidized core of that thin remnant of information previously devoured by journalists, fans, acolytes and attendees alike.
That plan still works.