Disclaimer: I am not a copy-editor, nor do I make the claim that the writing on my site is evidence of my authority in said discipline.
Apple recently posted a new promotional section on their site for the iPhone. I had no intent to mention it here, as I see little benefit in commenting on marketing materials. However, when I came across this piece from Youssef Sarhan, I couldn’t resist.
Here’s his premise:
With examples, I plan to demonstrate where Apple could have improved their copywriting. Copywriting is an important but often neglected discipline.
I agree that copywriting is important and often neglected, but it’s preposterous to suggest that a company as detail-oriented as Apple isn’t thinking about the way their copy appears on marketing as high-profile as this. Simply stated, this article looks like a weak attempt to get in on the return of the “beleaguered Apple” meme.
Sarhan starts with some sentence structure suggestions straight out of elementary school:
Traditionally, beginning a sentence with ‘and’ (a conjunction) is not recommended. This is because ‘and’ is used to link or compare two points, separating them with a period can create an awkward cadence.
Or an intentionally conversational one. Apple’s cadence, as Sarhan puts it, is there to make the copy seem friendly and approachable, simple and clear in a common-usage sort of way.
And then there’s his suggested correction:
Then there’s everything you can do with it.
But that’s not the same meaning as Apple’s copy. The original refers to both the advantages of the iPhone and the implication that all other smartphones are in a class below it. Sarhan’s version leaves out the comparison, which is the clear direction (for good or for ill) Apple has elected for this campaign.
He goes on to attack Apple’s reference to its customer service awards, which I’ll agree are US-centric. Then he goes after the word plays on “great” and “powerful.” These are neither muddled nor confused as Sarhan claims. They again emphasize the simple and direct—yet still playful and relatable—personality Apple is going for. Are they some kind of achievement in literature to rival Shakespeare? No. Are they approachable and effective, I think so (as does Apple, obviously).
He closes with this:
There are a bunch of other things, but it’s late and I’m tired. Whoever wrote this copy probably shouldn’t write copy for Apple anymore. Finally, notice how there are no black iPhones featured on the entire page, they are all White. I wonder if there’s a strategic reason for that, probably not.
I wonder if he woke up and realized that the whole angle for his piece feels like it was late and he was tired? Hey, at least he used a comma and coordinating conjunction to join his independent clauses! As for the black iPhone? A bit more consideration might have led him to the conclusion that the black iPhones are the ones with complaints about the colorization process on the aluminum. A bit more consideration might also have kept him from clicking “publish” on this post.
But it didn’t.