The trend built by the iPod: the silhouette of the iPod
The silhouette of the iPod is known throughout the world. In fact, there doesn’t have to be a name on the ad, not even a clear image of the iPod product, and yet the public knows that the ad belongs to the ever-innovative Apple. A marketing strategy that took on a life of its own, now the silhouette of the iPod is an icon unto itself, much like the device it was intended to market, the iPod.
When Apple was ready to market the iPod, they needed publicity that would stay in the minds of their customers. They wanted something that would represent the freshness of the iPod, something that would change the face of advertising as easily as the iPod could change the face of the music industry. The iPod was revolutionary, so advertising had to be too.
The famous iPod commercial began with a person dancing, in the shadows, against a brightly colored background. The silhouette danced to the music while holding an iPod and listening to the tunes through the iconic headphones, which were featured in white in advertisements, thus standing out from the dancer and the background. The sight became so common that it soon had its own name: The Silhouette.
The ads were an instant hit, and the iPod campaign became recognizable practically overnight. The silhouette was not only popular on television, it was also common to see a silhouette, captured in a wild dance moment, on the side of a building or a billboard, iPod in hand. Every now and then, an ad would pop up without an iPod in sight, but headphones would pop up, a sign that even iPod accessories had entered mainstream culture.
The silhouette ad has changed a bit over the years, but it still involves the same classic style of a dance silhouette against a contrasting background. In some cases, only part of the ad was contrasted. In a more recent ad to promote the new aluminum color of some iPod cases, dancers are seen waving their iPods in the air, and a trail of luminescent light follows the device around the screen.
The silhouette ads were so popular that celebrities clamored to appear in them. The ads developed their own following, with customers searching for new ones, and discussions of who might appear next were common on message boards. The silhouette of the iPod began to appear on television shows. Soon, the iPod silhouette was represented by both trendsetters and legends, including U2, Mary J. Blige, Paul McCartney, Eminem, and Bob Dylan.
The silhouette has found its way into other parts of popular culture as well. It is now a popular technique for wedding photography, common among scrapbooking enthusiasts, and often appears on posters and bumper stickers. Apple has always been at the forefront of advertising, but it was never more obvious than in the iPod silhouette ads and the storm of recognition that followed.