Apple's First Ad of 2013 (Watch It Here) Is Laced With Unintentional Irony

Venus and Serena Williams Star in a 'Do Not Disturb' Plug

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Last month I called Apple the "most damaged big brand of the year," given the dings it suffered in 2012 thanks to the Apple Maps-app debacle and all the bad karma surrounding its controversial outsourcing practices. I got some blowback from Apple defenders, some suggestions regarding embattled brands I'd overlooked (one commenter wrote "My vote for most damaged brand of the year has to go to the Republican Party with Papa John's a close second" -- points well taken!) and, particularly on Twitter, tons of agreement.

Honestly, though, I'm rooting for Apple. As I noted in my column, CEO Tim Cook has apologized for Apple Maps (which I appreciated, though it didn't stop me from deleting that app-from-hell from my iPhone minutes after Google released its terrific new iOS maps app) and he's been talking about bringing some Apple manufacturing back to the U.S. I really hope Apple has a great -- more competent, more principled -- 2013.

That said, the company has already started off the new year on an awkward note, with its first new ad of the year, posted to Apple's official YouTube channel yesterday. It's a plug for the Do Not Disturb feature of the latest version of its mobile operating system and it stars Venus and Serena Williams in a dream sequence. Watch it above; it's mildly entertaining. Unfortunately for Apple, though, the Williams sisters are promoting an Apple software feature that 's been making news in the new year for being buggy. See "Apple's Do Not Disturb function reportedly won't turn off in the New Year." That report ends with "Apple did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment on the matter" (don't hold your breath) and if you view the ad on YouTube, you'll see that "comments are disabled for this video" (per usual for Apple). In other words, Do Not Disturb Apple, please.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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