The Cure for iPhone Envy: The story behind the doubleTwist ad

For our “The Cure for iPhone Envy” ad campaign we leased the window on the BART exit outside the SF Apple Store. Our contract with BART’s ad agency specified that the ad would go up on Monday morning, the day of the WWDC keynote. However, the ad agency jumped the gun and our ad went up on Friday the weekend before. Shortly after the ad was put up, it was ripped down by a BART employee. A tipster sent me pictures of this happening:

Ad being ripped down

BART’s excuse for ripping down the ad was that it was “too dark” and not letting through enough light into the BART exit. However, we have pictures that show there was plenty of light coming through the ad (the ad is printed on a clear plastic material):

Light showing through ad

We then submitted the following revised ad with a white background. A white ad would have let even more light through (notice how bright the bottle is in the original ad above). However, it was rejected for having a solid white background (!).

Rejected white ad

At the ad agency’s request, we then made the background completely transparent. It’s a lot harder to read text on a transparent background… After complying with all their requests to change the ad, we still haven’t been given a firm date on when the ad will be back up.

Apple is a major BART advertiser (in the past they’ve plastered entire BART stations with iPod ads). Apple’s WWDC conference ends on Friday. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here… I’m sure our ad will conveniently be back up after WWDC ends.

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46 thoughts on “The Cure for iPhone Envy: The story behind the doubleTwist ad

  1. Anonymous

    The ad won’t be back up. I know for a fact Apple PR got it removed for good. BART is planning on offering you a refund for the advertising space if you complain but will not offer you the same space anymore.

  2. Jeremy

    Don’t blame them.. why piss off one of, if not the biggest customer you have? They have to watch their asses. Can’t blame them for that.

  3. motaman

    They (both BART and Apple) can and should certainly be blamed if they applied pressure to have this removed. That falls under anti competitive practices, and is the kind of thing that would land Microsoft in court in a heartbeat.

    And hey from the old #dvdtech chan ;-)

  4. Marc

    Wow, that’s bullshit. Good luck to you. BART is a publicly funded entity and they shouldn’t ever play games like this. If I were you, I would call BART and let them know that you will be having a conversation with the Attorney General about their behavior.

  5. Deva

    This is a shame. I thought we lived in America.
    I wonder what BART would have done if
    Microsoft would have bought that ad space.

    Apple just made double twist my default
    music manager.

  6. Robert Bose

    I smell a lawsuit.

    Isn’t BART a publicly funded (taxes) metropolitan transportation company? And they blatantly show such favoritism to Apple and refuse to display an Apple competitor’s ad for such bogus reasons?

    I’m guessing that there have been many other ads in that same location that let less light in or had white backgrounds.

  7. Anon

    Yes, you can blame them. The ad was perfectly legal as was the app advertised. Doubletwist has a contract with BART and should be sued for failure to fulfill contract, or however you say it.

    This is BS, plain and simple.

  8. Matthew

    You CAN blame them if they are doing it due to pressure from Apple.

    If Bart were fabricating reasons not to show the add for this reason then neither Apple nor BART are being honest.
    Just because you recognize someone’s motives, does not mean you “Can’t blame them”.

    If Bart and Apple are conspiring and lying about it – I hope it is exposed and circulated as widely as possible.

    signed, an Apple fan who has nevertheless had enough “Aren’t Apple f•••ing great” commercials to last a lifetime.

  9. Ivan

    Buh? Of course you can blame them for that. Do you really think that if BART were to come out and say “we can’t let you put up that completely legal and appropriate ad because it would piss off another advertiser” there wouldn’t be an uproar? Why then doing the same thing through subterfuge is ok?

    DT bought the space, clearly specifically timed to match WWDC and build buzz. BART took the money and are welching on the deal. This is fraud, pure and simple.

  10. AntiJeremy

    What the heck are you talking about, Jeremy. That is monopolistic behavior by a corporate behemoth. There are laws to prevent unfair competition…

  11. Zorak

    If BART is so worried about pissing off Apple then they shouldn’t have taken their money and agreed to run the ad in the first place. Jerking them around like this is lame.

  12. Phil

    Jeremy, because they do not exist to service businesses who want to advertise on public infrastructure, they exist to create and maintain that infrastructure.

  13. Meh

    Then they Should have simply said to them, that it was a conflict of interest with a bigger client, then to take their money, and go through the motions of tearing down the ad, causing a bigger issue then need be.

  14. Joshua Brickner

    @Jeremy that may be true but they should at least be honest about their reasoning for taking the ad down. Making up silly excuses is unprofessional and sketchy.

  15. Daryl G

    Jeremy, you’re an idiot.

    First off, you CAN and SHOULD blame them. They’re impeding business.

    Second off, you’re an idiot.

  16. Steve

    Jeremy,
    Are you kidding? BART is a public transportation system funded by tax payers. Clearly this advertisement was paid for and followed agency guidelines. As a bay area person that supports BART with my hard earned money, they have clearly violated the terms of the contract on this item. They should be sued and made to apologize. Apple does not control BART and is not their biggest customer by any stretch. This is just outrageous behavior for a public agency and should not be tolerated.

    Barry — have you thought of submitting all of this to the San Jose Mercury News (I would not bother with the SF papers)? I bet you’d get some interest.

  17. Brad

    Yes, you can blame them. Its a breach of contract, pure and simple. It wouldn’t matter if China were one of their customers, you still couldn’t take down ads purchased by free Taiwan.

  18. Jeremy

    >>Can’t blame them for that.
    Yes, you can; the government’s responsibility is to be fair, not to turn a profit (and BART is a government institution).

  19. Jay Phillips

    I’m a big Apple fan (and live near where the ad was posted) but this is total bullshit on BART’s part. This is the same problem the media has with censorship: if someone publishes an article against an organization, the organization can use its money and influence to extort and censor the free speech with things as simple as “I won’t advertise with you anymore.”

    The picture of the BART employee tearing down this sign is a picture of our democracy being torn down one small piece at a time.

  20. Ray Price

    Blame them, Jeremy? Blame a government agency for restraint of trade and censorship? Certainly not! I think the commercials are over, time for you to go back and watch more of the Fox news(sic) channel.

  21. Neetha Kajonga

    Crack me up. If this had been an MS Store, everyone would be yelling censorship, MS not playing fair, applying unfair pressure…yada, yada, yada

  22. Sean

    I would blame them… legally, if doubletwist submitted the ad to BARTs published standards, Jon could sue for suspected discrimination.

    Do I see his ad every going back up? Nope. Do I think its fair? nope, but life isn’t fair either.

  23. Jason G

    Nothing says to blame Bart. He gave the information that was given to him and you should come to the conclusion that Apple had them take it down. Therefore, Apple is to blame. Leave BART out of this one and harass Apple for bullying a company.

    I’m fine with Apple wanting to control there products, but I draw the line at Apple trying to control the world.

  24. Kristofer

    Why not blame them? Why treat this ad any different than other ads? I don’t care how much money apple has, you treat your customers equally or you lose them… There was nothing wrong with the ad, the only reason it came does is because apple complained I’m sure

  25. Ed

    Sorry to hear about this :) I think it was a genius plan and Apple is just flexing their money stacks to control BART, which is a horrible transit system, so I am sure they need all the money they can get.

    That being said seeing as you changed your advertising to their request if it isn’t immediately placed back where it was I would def get your money back and have the ad there for FREE. I understand BART can remove ads at its discretion but I imagine there has to be a legitimate reason other than Apple threatened us.

  26. RTM

    I am a happy iPhone user, but I find Apple’s Orwellian handling of this, and other similar situations to be reprehensible. I hope that plenty of negative publicity is generated for them over this, and other similar, incidents.

    iPhone, iPod, ThinkPol…

    -RTM
    (Re: Jeremy’s comments: We certainly can blame BART for violating a paid contract with a company, and then lying about it repeatedly. Both Apple and BART deserve our anger for the backroom dealings they are displaying here…)

  27. Buzz

    I think it is even surprising the ad agency accepted to work on this ad, given that Apple was one of their client… okay we could argue it gives a certain visibility to Apple though…

  28. Jason Terhorst

    Uhhh… I just walked into the Apple Store a little bit ago, and it’s there. In fact, I accidentally went into the station, before going into the store.

    It’s very much there.

  29. Maverick

    Having your ad ripped down and all the attention it got online is far better than the ad alone. I got to see it and find out about your product and I don’t live anywhere near SF and I’m not at WWDC… Pretty good PR for free if you ask me. Still sucks they ripped it down and won’t put it back.

  30. Mark

    Why isn’t Apple seen as another large corporation full of bullies with profit as their only motivator?

    True to form Apple is the new Microsoft as far as tech company bullies are concerned. Apple just happens to be too “hip” and too “trendy” for anyone to pay notice to the crap they are pulling. Proprietary hardware for their iPod interfaces, check. Safari browser preloaded on their OS, check. Control over their hardware to OS Market (they sued Daewoo and Emachines and Psystar went bankrupt), check.

    I guess charging too much for inferior phone technology but fooling the public into believing you’re an innovator does work to create that artificial difference between good and evil corporations.

    It certainly pays to have a good marketing department.

  31. expansion

    Because its illegal ? Either they state Conflict of interest or they give all their customers the same experience for the same money

  32. Shane

    Ummm, yeah, actually you can blame them. The signed a contract to display the ad, and it was almost certainly a contract BART provided. You don’t want to piss off apple? Great, don’t sell the ad space to them in the first place. Once you sold it, you have a professional and legal responsibility to honor the contract – even if it embarrasses you.

  33. Pdquick

    Jeremy, part of the answer to “Why?” is that they already signed a contract. And do you really want Apple to decide who gets to buy ads and where? As a taxpayer and farepayer, I think if Apple wants to control a particular space at a particular time, they should pay for it, bidding up if necessary.

  34. Acr0nym

    There is such a thing as integrity. Of course money is far more important this is America after all.

  35. Jan

    Jeremy: Of course you can blame them! If they accepted the ad, it should stay on. It is a very unprofessional. There is always a bigger company. At least they should have balls to admit they did something wrong.

  36. Kevin

    Quit defending Apple, Jeremy. Jon had a contract with Bart’s agency that the ad would go up on a certain day and would stay up. The agency buckled under pressure from another customer. It doesn’t matter who the other customer was, they had a contract, and violating it makes both Apple and BART look bad. Also, I am fairly certain that I have seen black backgrounds on ads; furthermore, I am fairly certain that Apple themselves had ads in this manner. Next time you see an ad for an iPhone on a black background covering a window, complain to BART.

  37. Mr. Dave

    That’s BS. BART is a publicly funded organization and shouldn’t be censoring ads to please one private company that gives it lots of business. It’s bad enough that BART prices periodically increase often enough to take away commuters’ incentive to use public transportation instead of driving. For example, once you have three or more people going to a Giants game from the East Bay, it makes more sense to drive and pay to cross the bridge and park than it does to try to catch a BART train. Total BS.

  38. Dave

    BART is a public agency. The ad revenue is trivial and clearly not a priority: look at all the blank or public service ads in BART facilities. BART seems more motivated by it’s public image than anything else. And avoiding controversy, such as the recent murder of a passenger by a BART cop (who’s now being tried for murder) and attempts by other officers to seize passenger video phones that recorded the event.

    Let the BART BOD: http://www.bart.gov/about/bod/index.aspx know your views.

  39. steve

    what if doubletwist had BART take it down, then put it back up just to get publicity?

    DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNN

    on a serious note, transportation agencies are charged with collecting ad revenue so they can obtain matching federal funds. if BART took the poster down to save face to one of its biggest customers, that makes sense – they’re trying to pay for services without passing costs on to their riders. looks like the ad is back up, so we see that BART employees are paying attention to their customers.

    maybe removing the ad wasn’t the smartest thing to do in hindsight, but it’s always easy to be a monday-morning quarterback. let’s not be so angry.

  40. electrochain

    See it from the positive side:

    I bet you already realized the favor they did to you….

    You have an even BETTER AD through this (unexpected?) act as you receive FREE and STRONGER promotion by displaying the pictures on blogs and reviews that comment the attitude of BART…. Make sure they show this on TV, too :)

    And the very best part… you can demand to have the money for the AD refunded and walk out … with a smile on your face and the CURE in the pocket.

    http://www.doubletwist.com/cure

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