Madison & Vine & Sand Hill

Madison & Vine & Sand Hill

: I wish I could remember who was saying this to me this week (tell me and I’ll give you credit) but the Apple U2 commercial is more than product placement: It’s impossible to tell what’s really being advertised — the iPod, or iTunes, or U2. Then again, it’s not a commercial, it’s content. Then again, it’s a development partnership (see U2’s new black iPod). The lines aren’t just blurring. They’re erasing.

: CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: It was Steven Johnson who said that to me over lunch. Of course. If it was smart, it was Johnson. He was going to blog it but didn’t and I beat him to it. Nya nya. Anyway, Steven sent me email saying the complete list of what is being sold in that commercial is:

a. The new U2 single.

b. The new U2 album.

c. The iPod.

d. iTunes.

e. The iTunes Music Store.

f. QuickTime.

g. Apple.

h. U2.

i. All of the above.

Not to mention the new U2 iPod now and, while we’re at it, the concept that downloading music legally is good for your soul.

  • Yeah, I saw the ad last night. You’re right. It’s a very strange blend that’s hard to categorize. I’m usually opposed to celebrities branding their music, etc, for cash (see Target’s new Lenny Kravitz ad, just seems wrong), but this is a unique context. I’ll check out U2’s new black iPod and see if that helps clarify things:)

  • Karl

    It’s the same with the music video-style K-Mart ads that cross-promote shows on the WB and use music from bands like the Raveonettes.

  • Penschool

    Yeah, product-placement, celebrity endorsement, and cross-promotion is soooo new….I wonder if it will catch on?

  • Steven Johnson

    Jeff, thanks for the props. Just for clarity’s sake, the list I described was really for the online version of the ad, which is a full two minutes long, and only viewable on the iTunes music store. When you view it that way, it’s clearer that it is also promoting quicktime and the music store as distinct entities, and not just ipod/itunes, as the TV spot does.
    And yes, to respond to the other comments: product placement is nothing new. But this strikes me as a unique combination in that there’s no clear dominant product (is it the song, the album, the iPod, iTunes, the store?) And, more importantly, it manages to blur all those lines and not be completely annoying to watch, which is the truly remarkable thing…

  • “It’s impossible to tell what’s really being advertised — the iPod, or iTunes, or U2.”

  • hehe, no way Treacher. U2 is revvin’ up for their 3rd generation of fans.
    These are the guys that gave us ZOOtv, Zooropa, POPmart, and now they finally their home – in the commercial.

  • finally “found” their home (friggin’ typos)

  • It’s definitely one of the better ads I’ve seen in a long while. I’ve never felt the need for an ipod, but the U2 commerical made me sit up and take notice. So I guess it’s effective enough.

  • katie

    Bono makes me laugh when his heart bleeds all over his $800 Gucci shoes while trapsing through some craphole in Africa for five minutes before taking off in a private jet. After he’s gone, I can just imagine starving AIDS-afflicted young Wamuhu asking his mother, “Who was that Irish arsehole?!”

  • slough1980

    Being a huge U2 fan, I loved the commercial. Being a media studies major, I loved the commercial for a different reason. Talk about your “soft sell” commercials; this ad sold it all, as mentioned before. Of course, you forget that using Bono alone also strikes a chord of familiarity with his causes, which have been sneaking into the spotlights more prolifically over the past few years. So, the emphasis of Bono through the usage of frequent shots of him also sells himself and his ideology (albeit slightly) along with U2.
    I think I know why U2 would do this, and it does have to do with exposing themselves to the largest audience possible; something that Universal Records could do that Island really couldn’t. Not to mention, how hush-hush U2 has been during this whole file-sharing war. Let’s face it, the industry screwed up big, and it only needed a new face (Apple) in the biz with a (if not, the) most respectable group with familiarity (U2) to get people really caring about music so much that they’re willing to shell out money for it again, through the usage of a few intriguing incentives.
    U2 gets more exposure, Apple gains credibility, both receive tons of money, and people are intrigued. Sounds like sound business tact to me…