The iPhone 5c Billboard Assault

Apple really, really, really, really wants you to buy an iPhone 5c.


Having just spent the past two weeks in New York City, I can say with confidence that there was only one constant visual that competed with the seemingly near-complete Freedom Tower: billboards for Apple’s iPhone 5c.

I’m actually a big fan of the 5c. From a pure industrial design perspective, I was actually more impressed with it than its big brother, the iPhone 5s. But the public seemingly did not agree.

While Apple has not broken down the sales ratio of the iPhone 5s versus iPhone 5c, every indication (including some from the company themselves), is that it’s not selling as well as Apple would have liked.

It was, I suppose, a miscalculation. And it’s one that I suspect we’ll see remedied in the forthcoming iPhone cycle. But that apparently isn’t stopping Apple from pulling out the stops when it comes to advertising the iPhone 5c.

While this is purely circumstantial, given the advertising I’ve seen in San Francisco and now New York, it sure seems like Apple is trying to put a massive amount of its advertising weight behind the 5c. And one would assume that this is a last-gasp effort to save what will likely be viewed as a clunker of a product.

There is no technology company more effective with their advertising than Apple. Even the “missteps” are leaps and bounds better than most of what their competitors put out there. So I’m fascinated by this full-on assault on our eyeballs that Apple is pushing with the iPhone 5c. If that can’t save the product, clearly nothing will.

We’ve been told over the past few years that advertising is increasingly crucial to the success of many consumer-facing products. In fact, some would argue that it’s one of the main reasons for the rise of Samsung in the face of so much Android competition.

Yet, when I was in an Apple store in New York earlier today, I saw a near-empty iPhone 5c table. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5s table was packed. The assault is seemingly not working.

This will undoubtedly be a good lesson for Apple. Even the most admired brand in the world can’t advertise their way out of a misstep. At the end of the day, all that matters are happy consumers. And while I think the iPhone 5c is a solid product, the reality is that it’s far too close to the iPhone 5s.

Colors and advertising proved to be not enough.