Unapologism and the New Brand World


“iPhone 5C is beautifully, unapologetically plastic. Multiple parts have been reduced to a single polycarbonate component whose service is continuous and seamless.” – Jony Ivey, Apple

I’ve been obsessing over that quote since it entered into mainstream discussions amongst marketers, PR practitioners and consumers alike. Weeks later, during the debates between analysts as to whether the 5C is a failure (It’s far from being a flop.), a sliver of insight seems to have been lost on everyone: Apple’s ushering in what I’m deeming “The Age of Unapologism”.

Since Jony Ivey’s famous on-camera proclamation that plastic is sexy, there’s been a subtle paradigm shift in how brands are beginning to approach the positioning of their products to the public. After years of agency strategists encouraging brands to “co-create products with your greatest advocates” it seems as though brands are taking their power back without remorse. In a sense, I’ve relieved.

Like Social Media, This is Nothing New

Apple’s decision to take a stand with the 5C harkens back to marketing in the 90’s where brands would offer a market-led, superior value position to their customers. It’s hard to believe but one of the prime pillars of brand-to-consumer communication 20 years ago centered around quality, and with good reason. Quality is a “…concept laden with emotion, relating strongly to personal feelings of success, failure, self-esteem and meeting others expectations.”

When focusing on improving quality, such as in Ivey’s description of the 5C, it stimulates powerful positive feelings when it is associated with change, innovation, new possibilities, opportunity and break-through.

Admittedly, not every brand is Apple. But brands that have shied away in recent years from the very attributes they’ve built their reputations on, are hitting the reset button and embracing what they’re known best for.

Social Media forced brands to find their conscience. Unapologism will force brands to find their hearts.

The Hyundai Assurance – Read the Fine Print!

Hyundai’s new marketing program gives you the right to trade back your Hyundai if you get laid off within a year of purchase.

I know this campaign is going to resonate quicker with consumers. More so than Chrysler’s “never pay more than $2.99 a gallon” one did. But before mainstream media starts writing story after story on how Hyundai is sympathetic towards laid off workers, etc., please read the fine print.

As Autoblog.com points out, the plan only covers $7500 of depreciation. So far consumers aren’t buying it come first impressions. Take a look at this commenter on Autoblog’s opinions on the campaign:

They’re using trade in value.
2009 Sonata gls msrp $23,145
tax title lic doc $2,300

down payment $2,000 (National average)
total $23,445

Trade in value on an 08 $11,525 (Kelley blue book)
Deficit $11,920
Hyundai good will $7,500
Still on the hook for $4,420

I used an 08 for comparison only because Kelley does not list an 09 yet. And as anyone knows, once a new car leaves the dealer it’s consider a year old.

There you have it. It’s a
nice idea, but if you’re in danger of losing your job, why would you be looking at purchasing a new car anyway?