Can you judge a party by its invite? Chances are if it's drawn by a callow hand and includes monsters or ponies, then jelly and ice cream, along with party games, are likely to be on the menu. Apple's "It’s only rock and roll, but we like it," invite for a special, invitation-only event to be held next week at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, California hints at both the future and the past.
The line comes from The Rolling Stones 1974 album "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll," a classy but not classic outing for the band which saw guitarist Mick Taylor bow out in some style, with his eventual replacement Ronnie Wood playing on the title track. The simple straight ahead rocker - both the song and former - Faces guitarist - sums up all that's best about no nonsense unpretentious rock music.
A nod to the past then and a clear hint of future musical goodness - new iPods likely, new iTunes a strong possibility - and music very much back on the agenda for Apple.
Another nod to the past is less welcome however, Apple's signature silhouette figures are back, a woman in high-heels either rocking out or performing martial arts moves, with what looks like a bulky early generation iPod in hand.
The iconic silhouette figures seen on TV ads, print ads, posters and wrap advertising campaigns, were quickly copied and parodied and have now become visual clichés. I was never a big fan. They reminded me of good college student work at best and the result of one too many focus groups, although we know that Apple have never been keen on the thoughts of an invited audience.
Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design Jonathan Ive recently dismissed them. "We don't do focus groups. They just ensure that you don't offend anyone, and produce bland inoffensive products," yet bland is how the ads appear, to me at least.
I hope the female-friendly pink and blue invite for the Wednesday 9 September 2009 Apple event proves only a temporary placeholder and not the start of a new retro-themed campaign, if you can call looking back only a few short years retro.
Apple has broken the mold, with the furry face of the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard update, rather than the rather portentous variations on the letter 'X' of late. Let's hope they take a similarly radical approach when new iPods arrive later this month.