Apple's art of the tease

The foreplay is often more important than the thing itself.

Apple Music are the new sponsors of the Superbowl Halftime Show.

For a cool $250 million they have secured the rights to one of television's most lucrative slots for the next couple of years.

On Sunday - Rihanna performed for the 12-minute long spectacle and she was spectacular.

Fast Company have an interesting piece which goes into a bit more detail of Apple's treatment of the opportunity, that's well worth the read.

What I found enlightening is how Apple as a marketing specialist framed the new sponsorship to make it their own - and truly maximise the opportunity.

The Apple VP of marketing, Tor Myhren, gave some insight as to how they approached it:

What we wanted to do is take that 12 minutes and stretch it out into many weeks in terms of the excitement around it. And clearly, in Rihanna, we had the perfect partner.

Over the past few weeks - leading up to the Superbowl itself, Apple started winding up to the big show.

Apple has rolled out content, marketing, and features tied to Rihannas Super Bowl star turn: a trio of stylish spots, all based on Rihanna songs. Shazam downloads of Rihanna-themed wallpaper and watch screens. (Did you remember that Apple owns Shazam?) Apple Music radio has produced new shows such as Halftime Hype Radio, a 10-part series reflecting on some of the most notable Super Bowl halftime performances of all time, and Rihanna Revisited Radio, an eight-episode roundtable exploring the stars cultural impact. Apple Music also worked with Rihanna over the past year to remix and remaster her entire catalog in order to be available in 360-degree spatial audio.

What Apple are masters of, is 'the tease'

If there one thing that Apple do really well as a brand is teasing the audience into a frenzy. They don't just dump new products into their stores - they allude to something new weeks before, they build the anticipation, they flirt with their fans.

Apple understand that the foreplay is more important than the thing itself.

If you look at the cadence of what weve done over the past few weeks, youve built this anticipation—the mysterious trailer, up to the final spot, to the press conference—the reveal is gradual and fun. We do that with our products, too. Theres anticipation and mystery behind what its going to be, and hopefully over the past several weeks weve helped to build even more anticipation for Rihannas first live performance in seven years.

For whatever reason brand theatre like this is rare.

Most of the time marketers tend to forget that humans love a good story build up - that ebbs and flows and takes an audience on a captivating journey of discovery.

Shoving content down the throats of your customers is not creative marketing - it's lazy and boring.

If there is one thing you take away from this example; it's this - the goal of great brand builders is to captivate the audience by taking them on a magical, excitement-building journey that unfolds over time.