What Apple does best
Create buzz about its products
By Paul Daniel
Disclaimer: I’m an Apple guy. This blog entry though is not to say how great all Apple products are, but to share one thing that they do best, create buzz. In tech terms, that’s called earned media, the kind that doesn’t cost them a dime. Paid advertising is not earned media since it’s purchased like ad space. I’ve been an early adapter. I bought an iPod a long time ago when they first came out. Hey this was a great step up from my Walkman and Discman. I still have them and share them with my 17 year old daughter sort of like a museum piece. Our home is an Apple home with three iPhones, two 5’s and my 6+, two iPads, a Mac Air, and our desktop iMac. Will the Apple car be next?
This is a brand, with a devout customer base, who will wait in line for hours just to purchase the the latest _____ (fill in the blank with the Apple product). They’re in a frenzy because of all the buzz they have heard about the product. Apple is a very secretive place. I was out in Cupertino, CA a couple of years ago and drove by Apple’s HQ. Big Apple logo on the front of the building. I asked the drive if Apple gives tours and he laughed. He told me that he has picked Apple employees from HQ to get them to the airport and drivers are told to meet the group at building 182, or some other number, nothing but the number is on the building.
Big buzz numbers in Google search for the Apple Car
I’m a car guy and just wanted to see what it might have in it and look like so I searched their latest hot project and Google showed 247 million results. This is beyond huge. If one marketing firm were responsible for this, they would be considered rock stars.
Buzz highlights include:
- “Apple Inc.’s $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing Technology Co. reflects an intensifying battle over the future of driving and highlights emerging alliances among auto makers, technology firms and ride-sharing companies”. Source: Wall Street Journal, 5/14/16
- “In its fiscal year 2015, it spent more than $8 billion on R&D, a 34% increase from the prior year. Some have read this as a signal that a pivot is coming, specifically into the auto business. That Apple is working on car is unconfirmed, but widely reported. It’s considered an “open secret” in Silicon Valley”. Source: Quartz.com, 5/14/16
- “Apple is said to have hundreds of employees working on creating an electric vehicle at a secret location near its Cupertino headquarters. Little is known about the car, but sources have suggested early prototypes may resemble a minivan. The car may or may not include self-driving technology”. Source: MacRumors.com, 5/13/16
- “Apple isn’t going to build out large car dealerships with a bunch of models on the floor. Existing Apple stores have more than enough room for one car to be on display. This would draw curious shoppers into Cupertino’s stores and easily top any interest in a 4K TV”. Source: PCMag.com, 5/12/16
- “An estimated 1,000 people are thought to be working at an Apple complex in Sunnyvale, California, according to AppleInsider. Operating under an apparent shell name, “SixtyEight Research,” employees have supposedly been told to turn around their Apple name badges (which already have their Apple logos deleted)”. Source: Motor Trend magazine, May 2016 edition
Dollar value formulas vary for earned media especially now with social media. The Motor Trend article about the car would be a big score because it was on the front cover of the magazine along with being a feature article. A front cover is something that, for the most part, can’t be bought. It also received big play on the magazine’s website and featured images of what the car might look like. How many social shares it garners also increases the value.
When I was working in the public relations field a story on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was a big deal because of the paper’s circulation, over a million at the time. Front page with a four color image even bigger. I was fortunate to score four of those. My formula was how many column inches the placement took, figure the ad rate for that space and then double it for the value. Color images with the article made it’s value 2.5 times. A live shot on one of the local stations was great but getting all four of them to come out to cover an event was through the roof big (I did it once). So even a rough, very rough estimate, based on what I found in the searches alone would be worth millions of dollars for Apple. It would be interesting to see what percent they budget for earned media and paid media but we all know that’s never going to happen.
Buzz aside will I buy one?
Most likely not but you never say never. I love all the tech stuff but the self-driving, if it comes to be, not so much. Fellow blogger Mark Savage and I differ on autonomous cars. He believes we’ll all be owning one when they make it into mass production and the government will mandate it. Boy, I hope not. I love driving. Part of the journey is the joy of getting there, especially true on my Hayabusa. Now I could see using the feature if I had one to many beers, like that never happens, and did not have a designated driver. It would be perfect. The car takes me right home, I don’t get hurt, a ticket, or worse hurt others which would be a very bad thing. The amount of people driving in the U.S. has been flat for the last couple of years especially from the millennials. Only half of them even bother to get their driver’s licenses by age 18. My daughter doesn’t have one yet and I’m encouraging her to get it soon so my wife and I don’t have to take her to something all the time. I sure hope our love affair with the car and driving never goes away.