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Apple's new ad campaign says, 'If it's not an iPhone, it's not an iPhone'

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Apple on Thursday released the first two installments of a new iPhone campaign that pleads to the brain rather than the heart, while vaguely alluding to the inferiority of competing products.

With its new "Hardware & Software" and "Loved" TV spots, Apple returns to a more practical form advertising, telling consumers about iPhone's merits rather than showing them through story-driven narratives. The first ad, "Hardware," also takes indirect aim at competing products, a tactic not often seen from a company who managed to stay above the fray.

Though not quite in the same wheelhouse as Samsung's A/B comparison style ads, both "Hardware" and "Loved" do something Apple and its PR partners evolved away from years ago: they talk at audiences without speaking to them. Unlike the clever "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" campaign, which ended in 2009, and a mountain of classy ads to follow, Apple's new iPhone campaign seems out of the norm.

In "Hardware," Apple explains the virtues of building both hardware and software in tandem, an obvious swing at OEMs like Samsung that create hardware around Google's fragmented Android operating system. "Loved" throws out feel-good statistics, telling the viewer that "99 percent of people who have an iPhone love their iPhone" while throwing colorful videos up on iPhone screens showing users having all the fun.

Apple does intercut with visuals showing off its strong offering of advanced and intuitive apps, as well as brief glimpses into how they work, but the pace is frenetic and unfocused.

Today's commercials could mark a new direction for Apple, one that is very much a divergence from humanized, artful spots like the holiday 2013 iPhone ad that tugged on heart strings. Those "quiet" commercials were made memorable by what they didn't show; iPhone as a device was second to how it affects your life. And that was the point.