Behind Apple’s ‘Slow-Roll’ Marketing Push for Its New Streaming Service

On the New Jersey-side of the Lincoln Tunnel, by contrast, three gargantuan signs for the iPhone 11 Pro, which was unveiled and made available in September, hang above the three tunnel entrances, dominating the sight lines of captive drivers and passengers in the traffic-clogged patch of Weehawken below.

Lee Clow, who crafted many of Apple’s best-known ads over more than 30 years, announced his retirement in February from TBWAMedia Arts Lab, the agency he founded in 2006 to serve Apple. Geoff Edwards, who has worked on branding for entertainment players like the Walt Disney Company and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, took over creative duties in May for services such as Apple TV Plus, Apple Music and Apple Pay.

Compared with the marketing blitz for Disney Plus, the streaming service that will arrive Nov. 12, the Apple TV Plus campaign seems more muted. Disney has promoted its service, which will include Pixar films and the Marvel franchise, across its many businesses, including theme parks, stores, hotels, cruise lines and TV channels like ABC, ESPN and Freeform.

On Monday, just as the Apple TV Plus series “The Morning Show” was premiering at a lavish event at Lincoln Center, Disney Plus introduced a trailer for its heavily promoted live-action “Star Wars” show “The Mandalorian.” The next day AT&T’s entertainment division, WarnerMedia, held an event in Burbank, Calif., to promote its wide-ranging HBO Max streaming service, which will includes everything from Sesame Workshop shows to “Game of Thrones” on its May debut.

Dan Rayburn, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan, suggested that it might have been wise of Apple not to do an iPhone-level marketing blast for the service, which has a relatively modest lineup compared to the vast libraries offered by its streaming rivals.

“Consumers are just drowning in content right now, and all of these services are competing for our time,” he said. “But they’re all approaching the market differently. This isn’t some race for Apple. It’s a slow roll.”

Soon after Apple made details about Apple TV Plus available in September, ads for the streaming service seemed to surge. The tech giant barraged the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards with commercials. Spots appeared during football games, sitcoms and talk shows. Billboards went up featuring celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Mr. Momoa.