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The spotlight on the battle of the smartphones

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From the tech and spec through to the launches themselves, smartphones have had airtime across national news, all the main tech websites and, of course, our social feeds. But who has come out on top?

Apple thought it had secured our hearts once more with a series of TV ads and related material that highlighted the iPhone 7’s best new features. And then Google Pixel arrived.

Putting its stake firmly in the ground in entering the smartphone market with its ‘Made by Google’ tagline, Google set out to mean business. With a hugely promoted launch event,  large TV campaign and supporting digital strategy, Google’s Pixel looks set to convince you to make the switch once and for all. They even released a how to on the subject.

Despite all this, there is no clear winner. Both have stand out TV ads, as shown below, so is it the supporting activity that’s the decider? The JJers discuss.

iPhone 7 Morning Ride:

Google Pixel:

JJ’s view

Tom’s view –


The success of a product is far more than who wins the TV ad war. It’s multi-channel and multi-platform and requires a fully integrated approach.
Tom Hunter

With vast creative and media budgets, slick TV campaigns from Apple and Google to support the launch of the iPhone 7 and Pixel were hardly a surprise. But while both campaigns get a thumbs up from me creatively, nowadays the success of a product is far more complex than who wins the TV ad war. It’s multi-channel and multi-platform and requires a fully integrated approach to ensure the message lands – perhaps exemplified by Apple finally joining Twitter days ahead of the iPhone 7 launch.

Samsung’s explosive exit from the segment earlier this month makes things even more exciting – leaving a vacant seat for an opponent in the usual Apple vs. challenger debates. It’ll be interesting to see how effectively Google capitalises…

Jai’s view –

I’ve always been a fan of brands battling when advertising. It brings a certain flair to their campaigns, especially when a brand is entering a new territory – like Google entering the smartphone realm with its new Pixel phone. Its main competitor is going to be, you guessed it, Apple with its iPhone 7. The YouTube clip introducing the Pixel phone could be seen to take a little dig at Apple for removing the headphone jack (well that’s what social media thought). Apple’s advert for the iPhone 7 has taken a new direction from the norm. It’s a sleeker looking advert, with some very good music to back up the campaign and social media again reacting with great admiration. But what I can appreciate from both brands is the multi-channel approach to marketing their phones, with both showing that print, TV and social channels are still important.

Barney’s view –

Google’s launch of the Pixel is a great example of the impact that print advertising can have in a crowded environment. While it’s not a new approach to advertising a phone, the minimalistic creative focusing on the details of the product really stands out amongst the clutter.

With Apple’s customers calling out for something new, and the struggles that Samsung faces, there is a clear opportunity for Google to make its mark on the smartphone market… finally.

Beth’s view –

Both the iPhone 7 and Pixel ads are dramatic and impactful and they certainly make the products feel like the next biggest thing. Even if the phones aren’t too dissimilar from earlier models, the ads do make the products seem special. I recently bought the iPhone 7 and, for me, I think the TV ads spiked my interest. However, reaction across social and YouTube reviews were more useful and persuasive, as I could see what other people thought of the phone before I bought it.

Emily’s view –

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that the Google launch was suspiciously timed. Not only at a time when Apple is suffering decreasing sales and pinning everything on the 7 launch, but also when the only real Apple competitor is suffering a PR meltdown.

Whether the Pixel is a real rival to the iPhone is yet to be decided. The opening reviews looking promising but that is beside the point. These two campaigns were about market power, not the products.

In reality, we have two market-leading products. The specifications are similar and both are more than capable of keeping you at the forefront of communications technology for the next year, but consumer opinion is what’s important here. Who made the biggest splash, and who can sustain it?

I wouldn’t want to place my bet right now, but if Google keeps this up and proves it isn’t a one-hit wonder (albeit a second chance), it could knock Apple off its perch once and for all.

The convincer

In summary, both companies have made an impact yet the public remains split. The iPhone has been slowing down, so it makes good business sense for Google to launch its rival now, but it has done so in a way that hopes to win consumers over in the long run.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that its marketing strategy has a very clear Apple feel to it and that’s no accident. Not because the tech giant wishes to copy Apple, but because you have to follow the rules before you break them. If Google was to enter the market with something entirely new and different, consumers would be less inclined to veer from what they know.Google’s strategy, to implement an Apple-like marketing style and product, hopes to win over uncertain Apple fans. Round two will be where Google makes its mark and tries to keep them.

Want to talk to an integrated agency that really gets digital and technological innovation and how it fits in your marketing strategy? Feel free to drop in.

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