Users Become the Brand

Apple's new ad campaign showcases how its iPhone5s is an indispensable parental assistant.A 60-second TV ad centers on parenthood and Apple's iPhone5s, the constant companion to monitor a child in a crib, show a toddler how to brush teeth and find a stray dog. It is an example of users becoming the brand.

The ad doesn't show off spiffy features of the smartphone; it showcases how users use it. The ad leaves parents wondering how they could live without an iPhone, not how much it costs.

This isn't a new concept for Apple, which has devoted more of its marketing mojo to benefits than features. But this ad goes further. It is a primer on how people use the iPhone. It is an ad chocked full of content, not claims.

Content marketing is already an established thrust online.  But it almost seems foreign to the basic idea and execution of TV advertising. 

As content-driven strategies have gained strength, advertising has been relegated to brand reinforcement. The Apple parenthood ad shows advertising can brim with content, too.

The ad also signals a movement toward creating connections, not desires. Snappy car ads want to lure you into a showroom, but Apple's ad brings the iPhone into your house, to address your everyday problems and challenges.

The brand connections forged in the Apple ad reach beyond a relationship to something closer to mutual interest, maybe even a reliable partnership. The iPhone is at the ready to entertain a restless child, take a picture of a sea creature at the beach, turn off the lights without disturbing a sleeping baby and determine how much water is needed in a flower garden. It's not just a phone; it's an invaluable parental assistant.

This may only represent a subtle shift in branding or it could be the forerunner of more advertising that is content-forward. If nothing else, it is one of those ads you stay in your seat to watch because it is entertaining, informative and charming. It is so charming, more than 1 million people have clicked on YouTube to watch it again and share it with friends.