15 Sep 2016

Dark and mysterious: Apple's bold new direction for iPhone7

It has been nearly ten years but the hype, speculation, and hoopla surrounding the launch of Apple’s latest product remain strong.

The unveiling of Apple’s iPhone 7 last week may have attracted the expected flurry of predictions, rumours and debate about the iconic smartphone but it doesn’t whip up the fever pitch levels it once commanded.

While the mainstream chatter may have centered around the removal of the headphone jack and the wireless earphones, the new look design - notably the sleek jet black model - was also attracting a lot of attention. As was the brand’s bold new advert.

This dark and brooding messaging is a bold new direction for the brand.

Forget the high-energy colourful advertising that heralded the arrival of the Apple iPod in the early noughties. The iPhone 7 is dark and mysterious, at least that’s what Apple want you to think if the advertising is anything to go by.

The 30-second ad is visceral, heavy of sound and a flurry of symbolic black & white imagery. Lightning flashes and cracks, water pulses with heavy bass sounds, there’s an owl, a stag, a boxer squaring up to a fight, a dark forest, rain drops, flashes of light, stars and then the launch date.

The phone appears for a split-second at the end of the film, its outline visible against a sea of stars in imagery reminiscent of the black obsidian tablet from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

Apple has created a symbolic feast to showcase the iPhone 7’s new features; waterproofing, a double camera, and stereo sound. 

The ad has been called bizarre, strange, creepy as well as being likened to a horror film – with The Verge suggesting it is the cursed videotape from horror film ‘The Ring’.

This dark and brooding messaging is a bold new direction for the brand and speaks to an interesting new strategy.

Nearly ten years on, the iPhone is no longer the market leader. Once the smartphone of choice, Apple has lost serious market share to the likes of Samsung and Huawei.

What’s more, a number of the 7’s new features, such as the double camera, water-proofing and headphone jack removal, are already featured on competitor handsets. 

Quite simply Apple is not the brand it once was, which means it needs a bold, new strategy to help it win over customers. It's hoping that the jet black model is cool, futuristic and stylish enough to do this. (Sure, it scratches and smudges, but that is beside the point).

The design and advertising speak to a more aesthetic audience. The advertising particularly seems to ignore the mainstream in a bid to target a more discerning audience.

Is this jet-black design and mysterious and symbolic advertising an attempt to speak to the brand’s core audience of creative types?

In a global market that has become accustomed to fast moving technology and regular product upgrades, getting people excited about the new iPhone is a harder task. Apple is clearly banking on a dark and edgy strategy to help it stand out from the crowd.



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