Posted By, By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.
It’s been one of the most anticipated technology product launches in years with Apple trying to keep details of the iPad closely under wraps for the big launch announcement.
However, come the big unveiling, we pretty much knew what was coming. After all, we’d seen the iPad in action and knew about its basic capabilities, all thanks to a number of videos conveniently released on YouTube.
With Steve Jobs’ big announcement the biggest piece of news was simply learning that what some had been calling the iTablet, iTab, iSlate, or Apple Slice, was in fact called the iPad.
Apple’s multi-million official marketing and PR drive will now begin in earnest but thanks to journalists and bloggers the job has in making the iPad one of the most desirable products on the planet has mostly been done.
The reason? A series of’ leaks’ driving speculation, conversation and word of mouth buzz.
We know for a fact that before the official launch a number of iPads were released for trial and we can safely assume that people working on the project and any outsiders involved signed NDAs.
But Apple being Apple, everyone is interested in talking about what they will get up to next. Their products are cutting edge, cool and sexy. Just a leaked word here and there is enough to prompt a global dialogue.
Then there’s the video footage. Films of the iPad in action have been live on YouTube for the past month. We can be sure that the NDA included a clause on not filming the iPad in action and posting the footage on YouTube. But all the same it happened.
The Apple police could have quite easily stepped in and had all footage pulled before the big launch. But they didn’t. The reasons are clearly obvious. Why pull valuable PR that has cost you nothing and is generating huge pick up? All the more importantly, why pull PR for a product that people are buying into before it’s even become available.
MD of Resonate PR, Michael Frolich, said that Apple were a notoriously closed shop, keeping a tight rein on all their comms.
“That said,” he told UTalkMarketing, “before the reveal, the buzz and hype was huge. It if wasn’t planned, it should have been. But it’s created the noise that any technological launch requires with the involvement of Steve Jobs playing a critical role.
“There must have been an element of seeding which was planned, but Apple know that once something is leaked it goes wide and are also aware what happens when the technology is bad on the back of previous launches.”
Frolich concluded, “Apple are very good at recovery in the face of a backlash and evolving products, but they know iPad will redefine how we will all use technology in the future.”
According to Tim Greenhalgh, a PR consultant at Liberate Media, “No one does desire like Apple, and no one presents desire as well as Steve Jobs.”
“Apple are past masters of this, teasing consumers by telling them their products are the best thing ever and then creating a piece of theatre when they unveil them so people believe them.”
He added, ”I don’t believe Apple wanted iPad images leaked in advance of the launch. But it happened. I don’t believe Apple had a PR masterplan. What we saw was a lockdown of communication in advance of the official launch, before the big announcement.”
For Paul Maher, Director of Positive Marketing, however, this launch has been the straw that broke the camel’s (or Apple’s) back.
“Apple’s usual tactics are paranoid pre-launch secrecy, over-delivery on expectations and product excellence,” he said.
“They got the first two very wrong as the world was abuzz with rumours, which Apple presumably thought was good, however they then could not over-deliver and so fact did not. I see bloggers and press talking about the lack of Flash support and USB sockets, despite the positives about screen and form factor.”
Maher added, “This stoked the feminine hygiene jokes about the iPad brand and ultimately a backlash. Now they have achieved celebrity, perhaps a review of the ‘Mega-launch’ might be in order.
“I would suggest local launches on a more frequent basis, a clear move from gadget to workhorse in their positioning and back-to-basics on over-delivering, if they want the world to pay attention to their next Macbook.”
So has it been a strategy that’s paid off? Director of DWP PR, David Pippett, has no doubts that it has.
“When measuring if it has been a successful strategy, you only need to look at the front page of the FT. The headline ‘Jobs unveils ‘revolutionary’ iPad as Apple steps up pressure on rivals’, with an almost perfect product picture of Jobs with the iPad,” he said.
“Considering serious national and political stories such as the Iraq enquiry, the Northern Ireland deadlock and an end to quantative easing were vying for the front page, I would call it a great success.”
But when you create so much hype can you ever live up to it? For Danny Whatmough, PR Consultant at tech PR agency Wildfire, the answer for Apple on this occasion is a resounding ‘No’.
“There was a problem with the fact that the rumour mill took everything a little out of proportion,” he said.
“A lot of the reaction today has been of slight disappointment as many of the rumours were unrealised.”
Whatmough added, “However, in the long run this slight negativity is unlikely to have any effect on sales or their brand image.”
Regardless, the marketing landscape has been fundamentally changed for the industry.
“For me, the iPad certainly presents a different concept for advertising compared to what we are used to on the mobile. It will of course present advertising opportunities for apps but this device is positioned for online browsing rather than on the go mobile internet,” the UK MD of mobile marketing agency YOC, Christian Louca, told us.
“For the publishing and gaming industries alike, I can certainly see why they are getting excited about the new device as perhaps they see this as a new format from which to generate more revenue, and why not. Give a good user experience and charge for it.”
See how Apple built buzz in the lead up to launch in the graph below.