EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was originally published in July 2011. I’m reposting as a courtesy to the readers who arrived here after googling Ms. Feiss.
It’s amazing the distractions a student can find doing research on YouTube. I stumbled on one of Apple’s 2002 “Switch” ads, TBWA\Chiat\Day‘s followup campaign to 1998’s “Think Different.” The “Switch” ads, directed by Errol Morris, supposedly featured real people who had switched from a PC to a Mac, “telling their story in their own words,” according to the press release. The ads were simple, shot against a white background, and were ripe for parodying.
In this clip, high school student Ellen Feiss tells us how she lost a “really good paper” while working on her PC. And although the success of the “Switch” campaign has been debated, it’s nine years later and I remember Ellen Feiss and her paper. I bet others do, too — which should settle any question over the campaign’s success.
Consider this: It’s hard to remember in 2011 how difficult that sort of imprint would have been to achieve for Apple, despite its re-emergence in the market the late 1990s with the iMac G3. PCs still ruled in 2002; the iPod — having been released only in late 2001 — had not yet saturated mainstream society. There was no iPhone. Tech was not that personal yet. The term “viral marketing” wasn’t used in everyday conversation. YouTube was still three years away. Even so, Apple and Morris got our attention and piqued our curiosity: “Have you seen the new Apple ad? What’s up with that girl? Is she real? Is she high?” Despite the speculation, we were interested in what she had to say — and we knew the brand she was promoting and still do.