This week two ads have been causing quite a buzz in the advertising community.

The first is a broadcast spot from Apple for the new iPhone. Love hearing Courtney Barentt and the images are (allegedly) all beautifully shot on an iPhone.

Watching the ad, it begs the question: Is this an ad?

They get around to mentioning the product in the final seconds of the spot, but we never see it. Hence my “Allegedly” comment up above. Assuming this was actually shot using the phone, I can see benefits of the camera. There is a logo right before everything goes black. It’s 60 seconds, historically the length of an ad. What is going on here?

Let’s be honest here — this is not an ad for the iPhone.

Before I go any further, I want to be clear: I am all for gay-marriage, that is not what my post is about. I come from Kinky Friedman’s school of thought that gay people have the same right to be miserable as straights. What I am questioning here is whether or not this is an ad.

Same thing with this ad for The Gap where a mother is breastfeeding her baby. I have no qualms with breastfeeding, other than I do get uncomfortable if a woman feeds in public and doesn’t alert me that something’s about to come out of her shirt. Sorry, but I am old-fashioned that way.

What does this ad have to say about The Gap or their clothing? My guess is that it’s not about the neckline is that t-shirt popping back into shape.


I don’t understand why the advertising community and their clients feel compelled to take sides and promote social issues with ads. If the product in the ad is solving a problem, then great — celebrate that point.

I have been a customer The Gap since junior high and of Apple’s since college. I am not offend by the message in either of these ads, but I am suspect of the ads effectiveness. Neither are making their product so attractive that I want to take a trip to the mall to make a purchase.

And isn’t that the purpose of an ad?

The Winter Olympics just ended last weekend. Did you notice how many of the adverts prominently featured handicapped athletes? Out of curiosity, I counted one night while my wife and I watched the Games: roughly half.

Did portraits of handicapped athletes move consumers to take action?

Were these ada good or are they forgettable?

Will Apple sell more iPhones because they’ve taken a stand on gay marriage?

Will Toyota sell more Corolla’s because they used the image of a handicapped person skiing?

What are these ads really about?

It’s not my place to tell anyone how to spend their money. If Apple, The Gap and whoever else wants to actively push a social agenda, that is their business. What I am questioning is the validity of these “ads” as ads.

A creative director I worked for years ago once quipped “If it doesn’t sell something, it’s art.” I got the stick eye from him when I retorted that I thought good art was selling something, too.

I’m not calling these “ads” ads. And they aren’t art either. I’m not sure what they are exactly.