Marketing Report
[Column] Michiel Frackers: Apple says sorry and Microsoft concludes record CO2 contract

[Column] Michiel Frackers: Apple says sorry and Microsoft concludes record CO2 contract

There is one place where they are happy this weekend with all the publicity around Joost Klein and the Eurovision Song Contest and that is at Apple. It is a good distraction for the media and the creative world after the fuss about the  mysteriously bad commercial  that Apple presented last week. What is the reason that an  oompa loompa went wild  on Apple CEO Tim Cook?

Hugh Grant : ' The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley .'
Image made with Midjourney.

In the commercial, titled  Crush , virtually every expression of human creativity is shattered by a massive vise until all that's left is an iPad Pro that survived the carnage. A substantively ridiculous idea and also an almost exact copy of a  2008 commercial for an LG mobile phone . Apple imitating LG, the company actually called 'Lucky Goldstar'. It can change.

In the US, Apple has been criticized daily since its presentation on Tuesday in leading publications such as  AdAge  and  Variety , but the usually cautious  BBC also eagerly quoted  actor Hugh Grant, who  responded  to Apple CEO  Tim Cook on X :  'The destruction of the human experience. Thanks to Silicon Valley.'   A quick anthology of other headlines:

A crushing blow

Apple doesn’t understand why you use technology

Apples also rot

Apple’s ‘Crush’ ad is disgusting


Afrojack vs Apple

Afrojack reported that he thought it was  'maybe not such a good campaign'  . If the man who parked a new Ferrari in the guardrail after an hour and fathered a daughter named Vegas with Amanda from the Gouden Kooi is concerned about your brand, then we can call it a crisis situation.

Apple has now announced that it will no longer broadcast the commercial and has even  apologized  . Someday there will probably be a revealing report on how things could go so wrong at the company behind the most legendary TV commercial of all time,  1984 , the Superbowl commercial for the Macintosh.

The Crush commercial is  better backwards.

'Marketing is about values'

It has now been thirteen years since Steve Jobs left office and it is cheap to say that every time Apple makes a mistake, this would never have happened under his leadership. But it's interesting to revisit  this  internal presentation that Jobs gave in 1997 just after returning to Apple. When introducing the campaign around the new slogan ' Think Different ', which was even grammatically incorrect, Jobs told the Apple employees present:


Regardless of the content, what is impressive is that Jobs does not read anything, look at a screen or use cheat sheets anywhere in the entire presentation, which lasts fifteen minutes; the man lives this text, he means it. That's the only reason he can convey it so clearly.

Apple was: help those who think differently

The core of the Crush commercial's failure lies in the fact that its creators seem to have forgotten Apple's values. In the 1980s, Apple stood for the slogan  'the power to be your best. ' Apple wanted to provide the tools that allowed people to become their best selves. In 1997 it became ' think different ', an ode to people who think differently and follow their dreams.

In Crush, iconic symbols of creativity are literally bulldozed to introduce a new iPad, in a tragically unintentional metaphor for Apple's current identity crisis. The clumsy attempt to equate technological advancement with the total destruction of artistic expression underlines how far Apple has strayed from its original mission.

Instead of unveiling revolutionary products, Apple is now focusing on  licensing technologies like  OpenAI's ChatGPT. These types of collaborations illustrate the shift from innovative leadership to relying on external sources for innovation. The lack of appealing new products is the reason behind the steadily declining turnover. The  Apple Vision Pro is beautiful , but in terms of turnover it is a drop in the ocean.

It is high time that Apple remembers the text from its own Think Different TV commercial:


Webinar about Tracer on 22 and 23 May

Speaking of the kind of optimists who think they can make the world a better place, I've been getting a lot of questions about the  Tracer blockchain project  and how you can get involved in the emerging gigaton industry of carbon removal, which I  wrote about last week .

I share the amazement of many readers at the simply gigantic expectations that companies such as  McKinsey ,  Morgan Stanley  and  Boston Consulting Group  express in their reports about the enormous carbon removal market.

The  Tracer team  is therefore kind enough to give a webinar next week, especially for the readers of this newsletter, about the latest developments in the field of carbon removal, the way in which blockchain plays a role in this and how you can support this initiative. The webinar will be given on May 22 in Dutch and on May 23 in English.  You can register for the obviously free webinar here .

On May 22, I will talk to  Gert-Jan Lasterie , Chief Business Officer of Tracer. During his business studies, he started the weblog Flabber, which grew into a site with millions of visitors per month, partly due to successful series such as New Kids and Buitenbeeld. Lasterie sold Flabber to the American media group Vice, after which he headed social media at Coolblue with the nice self-chosen title of 'talking boss' and fulfilled various management positions at Telegraaf/Mediahuis.

Lasterie also wrote the book  'Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies' , which is considered the Dutch standard work on crypto investing. Even if only because of the funny subtitle:  'How you thought you got into crypto too late but became more successful than people who didn't read this book.'

On May 23, in the English-language webinar, Chief Technology Officer of Tracer  Philippe Tarbouriech will  join us. Tarbouriech held technical positions at startups and large tech companies in Europe and the US, including working on the gaming classic  SimCity during his time as a Technology Fellow at Electronic Arts (EA) . In a transition from virtual city builder to real life world savior, Tarbouriech has in recent years focused on blockchain applications such as the Carrot smart contract, which  creates and tracks carbon removal tokens  .

Lasterie and Tarbouriech will  of course also discuss the financing of Tracer during the webinar  and how you  can participate in the project during the  seed round this month .

Microsoft signs largest contract ever for CO2 removal

The day after my previous newsletter, which was almost entirely devoted to the carbon removal industry (high word value on Scrabble), the New York Times published an article about this sector with the headline:  “Will there be a carbon market?  A huge amount of work is being done to remove carbon from the atmosphere, but who is going to pay for it?'

Coincidence is logical, to quote Johan Cruijff, so it was nice that less than a day later Microsoft and Swedish energy company Stockholm Exergi announced a ten-year offtake agreement, under which Stockholm Exergi will supply Microsoft with more than three million tons of carbon removal certificates from the planned bioenergy plant with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in Stockholm.

It is  the largest carbon removal contract in history . 

In an effort to be not just carbon neutral but even carbon negative by 2030, Microsoft has announced in recent months a series of carbon removal agreements covering a wide range of technologies and approaches, including reforestation, direct air capture (DAC), ocean carbon removal and  biochar -based projects .

On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it  would also purchase an additional three million tons of removal credits  in Brazil, for a period of fifteen years. In doing so, the world's most valuable company gives a clear answer to the New York Times on the question of who will pay for carbon removal. No amounts have been disclosed for either purchase, but I estimate that Microsoft is setting aside at least $3 billion for these six million tons; an average of five hundred dollars per removal credit.

As if it was an agreed work,  the world's largest CO2 vacuum cleaner also opened in Iceland on Wednesday . Everything about  Mammoth, from Climeworks , is impressive, as reflected in  the report that CBS made . From nearly a thousand dollars per ton of CO2 removed, the price of removal credits produced by Mammoth should drop to less than three hundred dollars by 2030. 

Companies give sustainability a higher priority

It is striking that while there are many conservative parties in power worldwide, which do not pursue decisive policies in the field of climate, companies are taking the lead in carbon removal. It seems as if companies understand better that in order to generate annual turnover and profit, it is quite useful if there is still a livable planet in thirty years. Politicians often view the world through glasses that look at a maximum of four years: until the next elections.

The rosy forecasts from McKinsey, BCG and Morgan Stanley are of course based on information straight from their clients' boardrooms. More than half of CEOs say sustainability is now a higher priority than a year ago and carbon removal is the top long-term strategic priority, according to  a new EY survey .

Michiel Frackers  is Chairman of  Bluenote  and Chairman of  Blue City Solutions.


Also read:

[Column] Michiel Frackers: A gigaton industry: CO2 removal

[Column] Michiel Frackers: Musk and Zuckerberg are switching roles and BlackRock is making a big push in decarbonization

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