Apple recently debuted two new ads for the iPhone 4S, both of which center on Siri, the voice control feature that seems amazing in ads but never really works as well in real life.
Now, I have my reasons for not liking these ads, mostly because I think Siri is a touch overrated right now (note: it's also still a beta product, technically, and I'm not sure how I feel about the iPhone being marketed around a beta feature) and I'd be perfectly happy if Zooey Deschanel went away forever. But there's a growing contingent of Apple fans that dislikes the ads simply for the fact that they use celebrities.
These fans, and you can find plenty of them around the Internet (check out this MacRumors thread for examples) are saying these ads, and their use of celebrity endorsers, are just the latest in a long line of ways Apple has lost its way in the post-Steve Jobs era.
"Steve never used celebrities in his ads. He would've hated these!" they yell (or type, as it were on the Internet).
Putting aside the insanity of people who didn't actually know Steve Jobs saying what he would or wouldn't have liked, these people are wrong for one very important reason: Apple, and particularly the Steve Jobs "second coming" era Apple from 1998 to 2010, actually has a long history of using celebrities in ads.
Obviously everyone remembers the "Think Different" ads that started right after Steve came back (which, themselves can be construed as celebrity ads, though not in the way the latest Siri ones are), but when it came to marketing the product rather than the vision, Apple's go-to guy for YEARS was Jeff Goldblum.
Over the years, Goldblum would be used more and more just for voiceover work on Apple's campaigns, but that didn't mean the end of celebrity appearances. Very few people remember this ad, from when the 12" and 17" PowerBook G4s were announced.
That's Verne Troyer (aka "Mini-Me" from the "Austin Powers" movies) and then-Houston Rockets center Yao Ming.
OK, but that was more of a one-off ad. Apple's big campaign at the time was "Switch", which featured regular people telling their stories of how they switched from a PC to a Mac. Regular people like... Tony Hawk...
... and Yo Yo Ma...
... and De La Soul...
The Switch campaign also featured ads with Kelly Slater, DJ Qbert, and Will Ferrell. I remember them well, because they played on a loop at the in-store theater when I worked at the Apple Store. When the short ads weren't playing, there were also long-form videos that introduced products like iTunes (featuring MTV VJ Iann Robinson) and the iMac G5 (featuring the Black Eyed Peas), the latter of which I came to loathe with every fiber of my being (the version that played in store was about 10 minutes long and played about three times an hour).
I will agree that it's been awhile since Apple has used a celebrity as themselves to advertise their products, but that's mostly because of the success of the iconic iPod silhouette ads and the long-running "Get a Mac" campaign (which DID use two celebrities, but playing characters). But it's not unprecedented and it's not something Steve Jobs ever shied away from, and suggesting otherwise is ignorant.