This installation of the iTunes Beatles billboards has the Empire State building in the background. Using the same theme as the NYC Apple Store Beatles billboards and the iTunes Beatles Lincoln Tunnel billboards, the Fab Four appear as towering figures. Apple portrays the Beatles as surpassing King Kong — the raw primal id that in the end was dwarfed and defeated by technology. Here, the Beatles stand head and shoulders above the skyscrapers, following in the footsteps of Godzilla — that release of the reptilian brain through science, just like the electric music known as Rock and Roll.
Well, the good news is that we’ve lost the Beatles as Manson’s Angels of the Apocalypse. The bad news is that now we have the Beatles cult of personality.
Joe Stalin filled the Russian public space with Vladimir Lenin. Now, we have Steve Jobs doing the same here in America with John Lennon.
And then there’s the damage to the Beatles brand. The Beatles magic was their accessibility. Everyone knew that unless sired by a satyr they were never going to be a Jagger or a Richards. But, all you had to do to be a pea in the pod with Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr was to boycott the barber. Apple’s attempt to portray the Beatles as supermen lets the air out of the brand-vehicle’s tires.
The Apple iTunes Beatles billboards are a poor implementation of a bad concept — or more likely lack of concept. The extremely high resolution gargantuan images up in the sky seem intended to prove Charles Manson’s belief that the Beatles were the angels of the Apocalypse.
A much better and more interesting plan would have been to use highly-pixelated contemporary newspaper photos or album covers. Grainy pictures from early ’60s TV also would work. The AARP crowd (who saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, bought the 45 vinyl records, went to the Shea Stadium concert, etc.) would immediately relate to these images. Plus, those over 50 might not now be in the habit of listening to MP3s and are unlikely already to have a hard drive full of peer-to-peer download Beatles songs. Properly reintroducing the Beatles would be opening the virtual doors of the iTunes store for the original Beatles fan demographic.
The images’ manifest content is a portrayal of the iPad as the better laptop computer.
The graphics also store a considerable sexual potential. What the billboards show are three reclining people playing with something between their legs. All are using an extended digit. Clearly, Apple wants you to know that armed with an iPad a woman can be one of the boys.
For the female figure, the hands are Michelangelo Davidesque. The woman’s chest appears in profile. The hot pink pants have many folds. Her feet are nearly as prominent as the electronic gizmo that’s being promoted. The toes highlighted by a bow peek out of the shoes with shadows showing spaces between body parts.
Though the peoples’ heads are cut off , these billboards have nothing in common with liquor advertising “Silent Woman” motif. Here, what’s being presented is an invitation for the viewer to imagine (put) themselves in the picture. This technique is more often implemented by not showing a face, but just the back of the head.