Why Apple’s New Designed in California Ads are Strategic for the USA

on July 4, 2013

There was a recent report that Apple’s current “Designed in California” ads were not a hit with consumers and various writers who reported on this urged Apple to change them and to start bringing out cool ads again.
While the ads may not seem cool to some, for Apple these ads are very strategic and will run as long as it takes for Apple to hit home the message that the fruit of Apple’s labor starts here and regardless of where they are manufactured, these are American bred products.

Apple has always been proud of the fact that they are an American company and more specifically, a major force in the growth of Silicon Valley that for decades has been and still remains the epicenter of all things tech. This ad helps reinforce the idea that Silicon Valley is not going away and in fact will continue to be a major tech design center well into the future.

But I also believe that Apple has been reading the tea leaves and has seen how Congress and many of the American people are going down a track to try and bring more manufacturing back to the US. They also understand that creating US designed products will be more strategic to the USA’s long term vision of making the US much more relevant in a time of globalization.

You may think that I am crazy suggesting this, but even Apple’s competitors are seeing that if the products are designed and manufactured over here that they may be seen more favorably by consumers. More importantly, it could give them favor with the US government and the American people who are getting more and more concerned that the US is loosing its edge, especially to S. Korea and China.

The Japanese car makers have been doing this for years. Besides doing a lot of actual manufacturing in US cities, a lot of the actual design work is being done here as well. They just don’t tout it like Apple is doing with the “designed in California” campaign.

Interestingly, Samsung, who is Apple’s biggest competitor these days, is moving more and more development to California. They are adding a huge extension to their San Jose Campus and building up their research center in Palo Alto. They are expected to hire more than 2000 hardware and software engineers in Silicon Valley to populate these new facilities over the next two years.

If US consumers, the US government, and US companies start emphasizing the new battle cry “designed in the USA” to bolster their position in the face of the globalization challenge, Samsung could soon say that their products too are “designed in California.” But this is where Apple has a gotcha for Samsung.

Not only is Samsung a S. Korean company, but as a S. Korean company they are very nationalistic. Can you imagine Samsung US trying to convince their top corporate execs to launch a Samsung ad campaign stating “Designed in the US or CA” and getting their OK for this ad? Not happening.

Google is also following Apple’s lead and taking it a step further and through their Motorola division, just started running ads that say that your smartphone can even be designed by you and will be made in the USA.

Neither of these companies are doing this because they recently caught some nationalistic fever. Both realize that globalization is a much bigger threat to the US and their own markets and that is time to be very clear that the USA is still top dog when it comes to its role in the tech market and that people from around the world need to value this fact. Apple is also leading the charge to bring at least some of their manufacturing back to the US and will make the new Mac Pro in Austin, Texas.

With these ads, Apple is positioning themselves as a leader in this “USA Designed” category of products that I am hearing Washington is quite fond of. I also expect these ads to influence more US based companies who design products in the US to soon emphasize this fact too. Apple is just ahead of this trend and leading the charge.