You Tell Me: Is it a Rotten iApple?

07/06/2010 02:51 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Dr. Hendrie Weisinger Psychologist, consultant, speaker, author of Performing Under Pressure: The Science Of Doing Your Best When It Maters Most (Crown 2015)

My household has three Macs, four iPods, one iPod Touch, and in another week, four iPhones. I own Apple stock, and as a B School teacher, consultant to Fortune 100 Companies, I believe that Mr. Jobs is, by far, the most outstanding CEO in the corporate world.

However, and I believe Oprah would agree with me, there is a blemish on one of the newest members of the Apple family-the iPad which might make it rotten, at least psychologically.

A recent commercial introduces the iPad with the voice over, "Thin and beautiful." You tell me if I am overreacting, but as a clinical psychologist, I find that association to be offensive, especially to the millions of young girls who live on their iPhones who will develop eating disorders.

Thin and beautiful. I religiously watch Mad Men so I know that there are subtle and not-so-subtle messages in the commercials we see and advertisements we read.

Thin and beautiful -- what is the message? How about a commercial where the parents say to their "chubby" daughter, "Sweetheart, we will get you an iPad as soon as soon as you are thin and beautiful."

Thin and beautiful. Does this mean that you have to be thin to be beautiful? That's a message that has ruined many people's lives.

The iPad is great, but Apple would be better off promoting the fact that the iPad is thin and friendly -- so light, easy to pack, always with you, a real friend. You can still be beautiful "in the eyes of the beholder," but clearly, thin and friendly is more popular than thin and beautiful -- studies in social psychology prove that, and I am sure most NFL quarterbacks and NBA players come to the realization they score more with thin and friendly than thin and beautiful.

I'll buy an iPad because it is thin and friendly, not because it is beautiful -- if that was the case, would I not be a "superficial" consumer?

Because I cannot imagine Apple to ever intentionally offend anyone (their service people, especially in their Stamford, Connecticut store, are super friendly and provide great service), I will assume thin and friendly is what they really meant to communicate. However, there is a bigger problem.

As a stock holder, I am miffed by their marketing blunder. Even if thin and beautiful had no offensive nuances, what is the marketing strategy? In other words, who is the "thin and beautiful" market?

I bet it is not you (it's not me), and I will raise the bet that most of your friends are not thin and beautiful, but for the most part are fat and friendly. Thin and beautiful is a very small market. Your own observations will prove this to be true.

On the other hand, fat and friendly is a huge market. No one can dispute the fact that fat and friendly is a much more popular market than thin and beautiful. It is not even close.

What looks better: a fat burger or a thin burger? Carvel thick shake is more attractive than a Skinny Cow. A college student finds a fat joint more appealing than a thin joint.

As a business person, do you want a slim profit margin or a fat margin? Do you want your team to have a thin lead or a fat lead -- I know I prefer Ohio State to have fat lead over Michigan and I know ARod would rather connect with the fat part of his bat than the thin part.

Fat is friendly, and so is thin. Fat, thin, friendly -- that is a trio that can go together without beauty. In fact, it seems like beauty causes a lot of problems, and it did put King Kong in his grave.

Here's the commercial for Apple's iPad: you see a mother packing an iPad in her small bag, and seconds later, the whole family is using it, all for different purposes. The voice over:
"Introducing the iPad: Thin, Friendly and Fat with Applications!
"Wow," somebody exclaims. "Thin and fat at the same time -- I never saw that before"
iPad ... it's revolutionary.

I think this commercial, emphasizing the trio will sell more iPads and thus, fatten up my stock profits!

In the end, thin or fat is your choice, but just remember, friendly, for a computer and yourself is the real selling point.

As the most interesting psychologist in the world, be friendly, my friend.