Apple’s glass shrine beats all billboards

Grand Central Terminal and the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan have one thing in common. They suck people in!

Grand Central terminalThe former is 95 years old, and the latter is just two! One has utilitarian value the other cult value. Whereas more than 25,000 people pass through Grand Central each day, thousands of people come to the Apple store on 5th Avenue to go nowhere fast. They caress the iPods and gaze at other cool people.

Like the station, the 32-foot glass cube that sits on top of the store is open 365 days of the year. When I visited it seemed that people were treating this like a piazza, or park. Some were engrossed over their Macbooks, some having conversations and others seemed transfixed around the huge ‘genius bar’ waiting for their turn to be delighted.

Apple store - 5th Avenue, ManhattanIt struck me that like the station, there could very well be a ticket counter, and the people would pay to get in. Not that this is even necessary. Apple devotees are actually paying to be there –with their attention. Today. In a time when people are largely ignoring brands and blocking out branded messages, getting people to walk in (opt-in?) to an environment that’s eighty percent logo is pure genius.

A few blocks away, there’s a Best Buy right next to a Circuit City. I didn’t see young people sitting outside their sidewalk with open laptops, or taking pictures of the Best Buy logo. Apple has cracked the code of branding and billboarding by not simply slapping a logo onto a large (expensive) flat surface, but by building a shrine that pretends to be sign that pretends to be a store.

Things that made us go “huh?” in 2007

Oh, what a year it was. Between freedom of information faux pas, a fake press conference, and a shiny new new object from Apple, we obsessed about these stories:

The amazing role that social media played in letting the world know about the violent reaction to the peaceful protests in Burma, in September

Larry Craig, Republican senator for Iowa, accused of soliciting sex in an airport bathroom, pleads guilty, but then attempts to deny charges.

Southwest Airlines gets a passenger to change his T-shirt because of it has a slogan that could be considered rude. It also gets another passenger to get off a plane for wearing a too-revealing mini skirt. Southwest later apologized and called launched mini skirt fares.

Lisa Novak, the astronaut who drove across the country in a diaper, is arrested.

Strumpette, the PR blogger who postured about PR, resigns, and re-emerges.

FEMA holds a fake news conference after the California fires, using employees posing as journalists.

Apple fans camp outside electronics stores to be the first to buy the $600 iPhone.

Soon after this, Apple warns iPhone customers it would cripple it should they try hacking it.

Wal-mart is investigated on charges that an employee could have been spying on text messages and phone conversations between a New York Times reporter and a PR employees.

Jeff Jarvis begins to say nice things about Dell.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for Beacon, a feature that would have shared users’ personal information with others without their opting in.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrests the owners of a newspaper, The New Times, for refusing to submit information about the dates and times and other information about visitors to its web site. The case was later dropped.

Comcast responds to the “Comcast Must Die” angst started by Advertising Age columnist (and NPR’s On the Media co-host) Bob Garfield, saying “real world developments” such as becoming the largest cable provider makes it difficult to keep promises.

John McCain responds to a New Hampshire high school student’s question about his age with “thanks for the question, you little jerk!”

A blog calling itself Fake Steve Jobs, is tracked down to senior editor of Forbes, Daniel Lyons.

British rock band Radiohead releases its album In Rainbows online, for free, with a prompt to downloaders to pay what they want.

Earlier in the year, Prince gave away a 10-track album, Planet Earth, free through the ‘old media’ a.k.a. newspapers, The Mail on Sunday.

The protest by Londoners over the ‘ugly’ 2012 Olympic logo. The wisdom of the crowds was ignored. The logo remained unchanged.

Barry Bonds if pleads “not guilty.” Don Imus is fired by CBS, and returns to radio via an ABC affiliate.