Apple’s new ad for Christmas illuminates people’s alienation due to technology. It starts with a face we’ve all seen, the alienated teenager, cut off from the family and absorbed into his iPhone, and ends with tears coming down your cheeks. It is set in a scene we are all familiar with, a family trying to do its best in the modern world.
What turns this into arguably the best Apple ad since 1984 is a storyline bubbling underneath all of us. We are living in a time when the great institutions that our society has relied on for hundreds of years are under great stress. Today government, religion, schools and family are shaking under our feet.
The sacred stories we all grew up with are under question, which creates stress between people and for Apple. Apple first appears here as the tool of the rebel, the anti-hero to the Christmas spirit. That rebel turns into the creator before our eyes. Apple is the new institution, the disruptor, and the one who emerged from the broken glass and freed our creativity and built a worldwide empire with few rivals. Apple has a big stake in this storyline of how people use their tools.
When we see this rebel, this teen standing alone amidst the family, the snow falling, and him on his iPhone, what are most of us thinking? How many of us thought that teen was on Snapchat, facebook, texting… all at once? Were we thinking the real villain is actually the device? Apple is hoping most of us were pulling for the family.
Apples is trying to bridge… to be the bridge… between the old and new, giving individuals the tools to create something meaningful in a truly human way. Bridging the traditions of Christmas and family and the modern rebel alone with his device. That rebel is unmasked at the push of a remote and becomes the creator, the one who will preserve the tradition of the family with devices that serve the world.
Apple animates the hero as the individual creator who rises up from self-absorption to be the one who documents the moments that matter, the love from us all that holds this straining rope of human connection. Apple wants to be that rope. Apple’s devices bring us closer, give a place for all of us around that family tree and provide human meaning freeing us from the isolation we feel all around us now.
The big question is, was Apple right? Will the teenager make the uniting, comforting, inclusive video or will he fall back into selfies posted to no one in particular? That is the unanswered story. Apple is pulling for Santa Claus to be real.