Ad Age names Apple 'The Most Damaged Big Brand of the Year'

“It pains me to think of what’s happened to [Apple] this year,” Advertising Age columnist Simon Dumenco writes today in the Ad Age Daily online newsletter. “One of the most inspiring ongoing narratives of American corporate innovation and technological awesomeness has been diminished.”

Stocks down 29 percent

That’s not the the only thing.

Apple’s share price has been diminished, too. It’s down 29 percent, from a $705 52-week high to $503.36 as of this morning – and that figure in itself represents a 6.4 percent drop from yesterday.

‘Potentially life threatening’ new app

Last week, Australian police called Apple Maps “potentially life threatening” after the app directed drivers looking for the town of Mildura to the middle of a national park with   100-plus-degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures and no water supply some 40 miles distant from the town itself.

(Apple has announced that they’re replacing their proprietary application with the much more reliable Google Maps.)

Unpopular offshoring

Apple’s been pilloried, starting with a New York Times investigation in January, for having iPads built in China under “brutal labor conditions.”

So heavy was the outcry that new CEO Tim Cook is now making public statements about bringing Apple manufacturing back home to America.

The butt of jokes

“[I]n some ways,” Dumenco writes,  “Apple is the new Microsoft – the lumbering, hapless giant that practically writes its own jokes.”

A November announcement that Apple was integrating its lame Siri virtual assistant software into two GM nameplates (a fitting marriage of inept and inept) provoked Twitter snark like this:

GM and Apple are working together to bring Siri into cars, or as Siri understands it, M&M and Snapple are putting cherries onto Mars.

Either out of mercy or word-count limit, Dumenco tells only the most recent part of this year’s rotten Apple story.

Fire-sale pricing

In February, we reported here, Apple slashed its annual minimum advertiser commitment on its iAds mobile ad system. For the third time. To one-tenth of its initial pricing.

And the iAds unit started breaking in its third leader in as many years.

Loss of market share

In 2010, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android systems each had a 19 percent share of mobile ad sales.

Just one year later, iOS was down to 15 percent, while Android’s share rose to 25 percent.

Monopolistic pricing doesn’t work so well when you don’t have a monopoly (but act as if you do).

‘The ads everyone hated’

In August, Apple broke its condescending, three-commercial “Genius” television campaign, scheduled to run throughout the Olympics. Mere days later, they pulled the campaign to almost universal opprobrium.

Ad Age called it “The ads everyone hated.”

Forbes called it “cheesy,” among other unflattering adjectives the magazine quoted from consumers.

CNET UK noted:

The problem is they [the commercials] portray Apple customers as idiots… The ads also undermine one of the main selling points of a Mac — that it’s a complete doddle to use. The programs are supposed to be so simple you don’t need someone, or a 700-page guide, to tell you how to use it.

Not quite two weeks later, the creative director of this “Genius” campaign announced that he was quitting for a similar job at Samsung’s advertising agency.

Hubris begets nemesis

“In the classic Greek tragedies, the hero’s hubris — extreme haughtiness, arrogance or pride — always provoked nemesis, a poetic-justice-like form of revenge,” we wrote here back in February. And hubris is the perfect word to describe the Steve Jobs-era Apple style.

Over at Ad Age, Dumenco agrees, posting this morning that “the ugly truth is that Apple, in its Jobs-led hubris, had built up a certain amount of bad karma before his death.”

Now the nemesis is setting in.

Enough of it to get lots and lots of people thinking different about Apple this year.