#antennagate

Jonathan Mann:

So. Fast forward to 2010. I had just learned that I lost a big video contest, and I was feeling pretty down. It also happened to be the eve of Apple’s “Antenna-Gate” press conference. The anti-Apple hype was at a fever pitch, and I thought the whole non-story was ridiculous. I decided to write a song defending Apple. I hoped that MG would post it, and maybe I’d get some decent traffic. I wrote the song in about 2 hours and spent another hour on the video. I posted the song, sent it to MG and went to bed.

The next morning I woke to a flurry of activity in my inbox, including an email that appeared to be from Apple. I read the email and decided it was fake — someone was trolling me. I was in the shower when my phone rang. It was Apple PR. For real. Could they use my video to open the press conference, they wondered? Um, yes. Sure, uh, how should I send it to you? Jesus Christ.

Later that morning, I watched online as the song and video I had made in 3 hours the night before played before an audience of journalists at Apple HQ. Then Steve Jobs came out on stage and said, “Thanks for coming. We found that on YouTube this morning and couldn’t help but want to share it.” It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I heard later from the PR rep that Steve had been dancing off stage as the song played. If you watch the video of the event, there’s a few seconds, right as my song ends, that you can see him bopping his way on to the stage.

I can verify all of this, including Jobs bopping his way on to the stage that morning — because I was in the audience. When Mann’s video started playing I could not believe it. And I knew what it was immediately from the opening keys.

Every single Apple event is orchestrated to no end, including the “crisis” ones like they held for “Antennagate” — perhaps even more so in that case (a few of us were invited on a behind-the-scenes tour of the iPhone testing facilities after the press conference). Yet they clearly pulled a last-minute audible to play the video that morning. And Steve Jobs clearly had to sign off on such an idea. It was the definition of savvy.