Apple and U2 - Push Marketing Goes Bad

With the launch of a new range of Apple iPhone's, Apple forced 500,000,000 iTunes account holders to recieve the new U2 albume Songs of Innocence. There was no purchase, no request for permission to accept the download, nor permission to add it to devices. The results of this push marketing by Apple were a massive backlash felt around the world. This isn't the first time we've seen big companies fail when "pushing" their marketing on to it's users - but the reality is usually a smaller backlash than the global one Apple and U2 have felt from their respective fans (as is seen here in this BBC news article).

If you are looking to remove the album, for a how to guide got to
https://buy.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/offerOptOut

What can we learn from this 'push markting' mistake?

The ultimate result of this has been that there has been global news coverage of the issue, Apple then replied by issuing the guide (link above) and this prolonged the agongy they felt from the press.

Beyond that we can learn a few important lessons:

  • Forcing a 'Gift' is a BAD idea!
  • Always ask permission to send a 'free gift' - don't spam!
  • Think about potential issues before pushing.
  • Always have a fall back plan!
  • Act within your customers expectations.

Put into a few sentences. Regardless of your view of U2 and this album...

Apple forced a free gift onto its regular users, it's never really done this before. They didn't expect it. Apple has played on being the phone of privacy, with its finger scanner and security systems, yet it can reach into accounts to leave a present. There was always going to be a backlash from some of the audience, Apple simply hadn't planned for the masses to complain- they had no fallback plan.

BrandingAndy KinseyComment