AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerApple’s Teaser, No-Product Billboards

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AirPods Ad

Apple’s Teaser, No-Product Billboards

AirPods AdWhat do you think should be on a billboard? Logo, product/service, website, phone number, tagline, catchy headline? Maybe you have insisted on all of those on one billboard.

How about just a person in a visually engaging pose? How about without a logo or product/service? Apple breaks marketing ground and not only gets its outdoor advertising noticed, but earned media as well.

Apple wanted to make sure that on one day, the AirPods Pro would be introduced to the world. That can easily be accomplished in a digital format, but not in the tangible world or printed billboards. So Apple designed a two-stage rollout. The first stage was giant, dramatic and highly noticeable people shots that break through clutter; the second stage added Apple AirPods in the people’s ears and a small Apple logo. Yep, a small logo.

Apple AdAdWeek said that Apple took more than 30,000 photos to find the right look for the billboards. The campaign also used extensions (extensions are artwork placed outside the “live” billboard area). Extensions provide another visual technique that attracts attention.

The real power was the dramatic imagery. Photography is underrated for its pulling and selling power. It tells a memorable story that doesn’t need all the words, numbers, websites. It breaks the rules and breaks through the clutter.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

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Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.