We’re deep into the holiday advertising season and, as many of you have noticed (or maybe not), it’s been dominated by the phone carriers, not even counting all the ones about the Kindle or the one from Verizon concerning the iPad.

I say some of you may not have noticed because many of them are filled with the same, tired messages. But I find it interesting that the elephant in the room in nearly all of them is Apple’s iPhone. Even when it’s not talked about, it’s talked about.

There’s the Droid and its apps. There’s a bevy of phones advertising that they’re “as good as the iPhone.” (See Sprint.) Then there’s T-Mobile’s “piggyback” spot, which takes on the iPhone (and its carrier, AT&T) head on by copying the Apple vs. PC ads in form and style.


I’m a bit conflicted about this kind of strategy because, generally, a brand must be positioned against the rest of the market to stand out, provide a real choice and have meaning to the target audience. Heck, we’ve even recommended to at least one financial institution to take on Bank of America in much the same fashion.

But what is humming underneath these spots is a recognition that Apple and, especially, the iPhone itself is a preferred choice – and its competitors are powerless to do anything about it. They have failed to do is recognize what makes the iPhone so powerful for most of us, including me. It’s not about coverage, price or dropped calls.

It is, as I said to Inc. magazine last week, what having an iPhone says about me.

Until the competition figures that out, the positions of these spots will fall flat. It’s an interesting attempt, but I think they just make you want to have an iPhone.