Apple's 'Misunderstood' iPhone commercial: Holiday ad of 2013?
Apple has recently begun airing a new iPhone commercial for the holiday season of 2013. Called "Misunderstood," the ad follows a surly teen who seems to ignore his extended family at Christmas. In the end, however, we learn that the kid was making a rather impressive video for the family.
This ad is emotionally manipulative, totally unrealistic and possibly the best holiday ad of the year.
The "Misunderstood" ad is practically a master class in how to get your audience to feel. Everyone can recognize the frustration of a family member who isn't interested, after all. And we all remember being that teen, not finding any pleasure in the cheesy festivities. Add in loving grandparents moved to tears, and anyone with a heart is going to feel something.
This is emotional manipulation at its finest. Ads go for this regularly, of course, but few manage to pack in as many heartstring-tuggers as Apple.
About that surly teen: Kids that age really are that annoying. I was. My siblings were. All of our friends could be total jerks as teenagers. That's why everyone watching the commercial knows that kid. He's real.
But how many disagreeable teenagers are secretly filming their families in order to make genuinely heartfelt videos to capture the emotions? It can't be many. At best, the kid who kept filming on his or her iPhone will revisit the footage a few years later -- when the "cool factor" has worn away -- and then create a beautiful montage like this.
On the same Christmas, however, it seems unlikely. And we're not even going to get into the editing skills required for such a holiday-film masterpiece.
The best ad of the year
Here is my answer to every argument I just made: Who cares? The iPhone ad works.
I don't cry when puppies come on TV and I rarely feel strong emotions about even my favorite television programs. But this commercial managed to make me teary in less than two minutes. That is filmmaking power at its finest.
The thing is, emotional manipulation works when the feelings are real. Anyone with fond memories of Christmas, playing in the snow or even just being with grandparents can relate to "Misunderstood." These people are obviously happy and functional -- if you don't have memories of your family being the same, you probably wish you did.
The disbelief even works in Apple's favor. When we all look back at our disagreeable years, don't we wish we were better, kinder people to those who loved us? Who wouldn't want to be the kid that surprised everyone with the best gift ever? Similarly, parents surely want to think their little-angel-turned-hellspawn is only masking a good person.
On top of all of this, "Misunderstood" is an effective explanation of a product. Did you know you could do all that with an iPhone 5? I sure didn't! It's almost enough to inspire a purchase, which is -- of course -- the ultimate goal.
How does "Misunderstood" compare to other favorite ads? Share your opinion in the comments!