Bono: Apple is 'like a religious cult'

Speaking at the Cannes Advertising Festival with Apple's Jony Ive, U2's front man bemoans Apple's obsession with, well, itself.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Why aren't his glasses red? Tom Thumb/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I think of Bono as less a singer than a chief marketing officer for a political conglomerate.

He arrives like a shaded lightning bolt of deep thinking, pontificates and moseys on to the next Louis Vuitton ad.

Last week he decided to grace the Cannes Advertising Festival with his dulcet mind. There, he encouraged the addled adland attendees to support his (Product) Red brand, a non-profit created to fight AIDS.

Once upon a time, you'd see this brand in your local Gap. These days, though, it's largely forgotten.

Bono's not happy about this. And he's especially not happy about Apple's role in not promoting the idea more publicly.

With Jony Ive sitting on stage at his side, Bono made some pointed comments about Apple not crowing about the fact it raised $75 million for the cause.

He was annoyed that Steve Jobs didn't like the parentheses around the word "Product." He wouldn't allow those parentheses to be seen in Apple stores. (Well, parentheses can be very confining.)

As Adweek reports, Bono puts Apple's behavior down to it being "like a religious cult."

It might strike some as odd that a man who wanders around the world offering a fair degree of righteousness, bordering on sanctimoniousness, compares someone else to a religious cult.

Still, it's a criticism that's been tossed at Apple before. The notion that it looks upon itself as a belief system, rather than a corporate one, is not so hard to embrace.

In 2011, British neuroscientists declared that the brain of an Apple fanperson isn't dissimilar to that of a religious devotee.

In 2012, anthropologist Kirsten Bell described an Apple event as "littered with sacred symbols, especially the iconic Apple sign itself."

She added that Tim Cook and his cardinals "[address] the audience to reawaken and renew their faith in the core message and tenets of the brand/religion."

And what does it say of Bono that he actually allows his hymns to be included in ads for this religious cult?

Though Bono's intentions may, at times, be noble, he isn't himself immune from using some of religion's branding devices to further his cause.

It's inevitable, when you take yourself very seriously, that some will object to the lengths you take your gravity.

When it comes to Bono and Apple, it's two religions trying to find common ground.

And we know how difficult that can be.