The iPod silhouette is known all over the world. In fact, there doesn’t have to be a name on the ad, or even a clear visual of the iPod product, and still the public knows that ad belongs to the always innovative Apple. A marketing strategy that took on a life of its own, now the iPod silhouette is an icon in and of itself – just like the device it was meant to market, the iPod.
When Apple was poised to market the iPod, they needed advertising that would stay in the minds of their customers. They wanted something that represented the coolness of the iPod, something that would change the face of advertising just as readily as the iPod could change the face of the music industry. The iPod was revolutionary, so the advertising had to be revolutionary, too.
The famous commercial for the iPod began with a person dancing, in shadow, against a brilliant colored background. The silhouette boogied to music while holding an iPod and listening to the tunes through the iconic earbuds, which appeared in white on the ads, so they stood 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 become recognizable practically overnight. The silhouette wasn’t just popular on television – it was also common to see a silhouette, caught in a moment of wild dancing, on the side of a building or a billboard, iPod in hand. Occasionally an ad would appear with no iPod in sight, but the earbuds were featured – a sign that even the iPod accessories had entered into mainstream culture.
The silhouette ad has changed a little over the years, but it still involves the same classic style of a dancing silhouette against a contrasting background. In some cases, only part of the advertisement was in contrast. In a more recent ad to tout the new aluminum color of some iPod cases, the 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 be featured in them. The ads developed their own following, with customers on the lookout for the new ones, and discussions about who might be featured next were common on message boards. The iPod silhouette began showing up in television shows. Soon the iPod silhouette had been represented by both trendsetters and legends, including U2, Mary J. Blige, Paul McCartney, Eminem and Bob Dylan.
The silhouette has made its way into other parts of popular culture as well. It is now a popular technique for wedding pictures, common among scrapbooking enthusiasts, and is often featured on posters and bumper stickers. Apple has always been on the cutting edge of advertising, but never was it more obvious than in the iPod silhouette ads, and the storm of appreciation that followed.