If You Live In a Blue State, You Probably Haven’t Seen This Apple Music Ad

Screenshot of Apple Music, featuring 'Sweet Home Alabama'
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God, guns, motorcycles, and ‘my America’.  Welcome to Apple Music’s latest advertising target.

The civil war between the Coastal Elites and Trump Country has left some companies with a giant blind spot.  Sure, you may hate their politics.  But they still might want to buy your products.

Enter Apple, which is now targeting its latest advertisements straight into the Red State heartland.  That is, the states that most California-based Apple executives hate with a vitriolic passion.  But technology isn’t politics, and neither is business.  And if Apple really wants to beat Spotify, they might need to expand their target demographic beyond Brooklyn and San Francisco.

Which brings us to the latest Apple Music ad featuring country singer Brantley Gilbert.

If missed this spot, it’s because it wasn’t made for you.  The spot focuses heavily on stuff like motorcycles, traditional values, and songs like ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.  It also debuted during a NASCAR race, and doesn’t have an indie band in site.

Turns out Red States have millions of people who’d love a streaming music service, too.  Accordingly, Apple is also tearing a page out of another marketing and advertising master: Donald Trump himself.  In a black-and-white motif featuring farmland, dusty taverns, and Harleys, here’s Brantley Gilbert’s voiceover message:

“This is my home. No matter where I go, my heart stays here. My friends, my family, this country. My country, my people…”

Sound familiar?  Not if you can’t hear the pitch of a perfectly-tuned dog whistle.  But that’s how you effectively reach this crowd these days.  Accordingly, here’s how Gilbert opens up the spot, conjuring feelings of freedom and traditional values:

“I love the feeling out here. The freedom. The simplicity. The open road.”

All stuff that Madison Avenue is learning in the wake of Trump’s presidential victory in November.  Sure, you may hate the guy, but he figured out what the highest-paid advertising agencies couldn’t.  Now, companies like Apple are re-ingesting those lessons to suit their own needs.

Of course, none of this is overtly political, but maybe that’s the point.  “There’s nothing overtly political about the ad, but to me the subtext reads as This is Trump Country — and Gilbert’s fan base surely overlaps with President Trump’s political base,” remarked AdAge editor Simon Dumenco.

The ad itself was shot in and around Leipers Fork, Tennessee, south of Nashville.  All of which offered an ample backdrop of railroad tracks, weatherbeaten barns, open farmland, and Red State nostalgia.





16 Responses

  1. Seth Keller

    Maybe. But the TV ads I’ve seen from Apple (living in LA) have skewed toward an older and more mainstream demo albeit in different genres. The most prominent ones I recall featured Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder and Andra Day–not exactly indie hipsters.

    Apple Music in general seems to be marketing toward the older folks who already regularly use itunes.

    • Anonymous

      Man, I need something new — something to replace Apple, YouTube, Google and Facebook.

      These brands are so incredibly boring, you know every thought they’ll be thinking, every product they’ll be launching the next ten years. 🙁

  2. scaredy–cat on the bus

    Here in my neck of the woods, bikers in black leather riding powerful motorcycles in packs are usually met with a certain amount of fear and trepidation from those of us with a more genteel disposition..

    Also, here they are often associated (perhaps wrongly) with crookedness and
    thuggery.. Of course this would not be across the board, but certainly in media
    it’s portrayed in that way (here in the big city..)

  3. Eric

    Trump didn’t figure anything out to win the presidency. People just hate Hillary that much, what choice did they have really?

    • Eilo

      Trump ain’t about politics, Trumps about Trump, pavin’ the way for the FAMILY BRAND post DC residency.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      There’s a lot of truth to that. But this was a complex election. And Hillary left a giant opportunity for Trump to exploit. I’m not sure another candidate would have just won or taken advantage of those weaknesses as well.

  4. Joe Strummer

    Hey Paul, while your panties are in a pinch cause the words in this ad or thought of may not jibe with your views. Remember this country is 50 states, with different people and different ideals/thoughts/traditions and values. This is nothing more than targeted marketing, something that has not happened in many years. Why you ask? Hmm could it be that your good old buddy Billy deregulated the FCC so his corporate buddies could pay a all in fee for ad campaigns? I applaud Apple for finally looking at this country as it is, diverse and interesting. I personally would not want to see an ad for John Deer and or the best feed store or who has the best cow. Yet there are those that do and if you want to sell your product you go directly there….think about that for a second.

  5. Truth Hurts

    “different ideals/thoughts/traditions and values.”

    like racism and laziness?

    • Yes, it Does

      Or like ridiculously juvenile responses to comments, or embarrassingly knee-jerk leaps to totally un-warranted assumptions and stereotypes?

  6. John Cougar Melonballer

    I feel like the author got one thing backwards here: the execs at Apple don’t hate the Red States with a “vitriolic passion”; most of the hate and vitriol I’ve seen in the last few years seems to flow strictly in the other direction.

  7. Anonymous

    “Sound familiar? Not if you can’t hear the pitch of a perfectly-tuned dog whistle.”

    Except it may not be a dog whistle — remember Tim Cook at Trump’s table? Or the new Apple that allows VPN apps everywhere, except in China where decent people actually need them? Apple, the phone manufacturer that didn’t invent a thing before or after Jobs?

    I think that’s the real Apple.

    • Eilo

      What you don’t think Jobs would have been at the table. Moron,

  8. Eilo

    Music’s the new water. And EVERYONE needs it…just so happens, Apple’s is sweeter.