Ads We Like: Apple’s holiday ad tells a gentle story of everyday creation and grief

Apple is invoking the heartrending spirit of Disney’s Up for Christmas 2019, following a family as they cope with their first holiday without their wife, mother and grandma.

Directed by Mark Molloy, the full three-minute film follows a family of four making a long road trip to see the mother’s father. The usual fight over seats and constant bickering occurs as tensions fray on the journey.

Once at the house, it transpires the grandfather has recently lost his wife. The parents hand their kids an iPad to keep them occupied so they can concentrate on helping grandpa.

On Christmas morning, the girls reveal what they have really been doing on the iPad: creating a digital scrapbook telling the story of their grandpa’s life with his late wife. A clip of the last time grandma was captured on camera – coupled with the thoughtful sentiment of the gift – brings all the adults to tears.

Apple hopes the film will prove not all tech is for mindless consumption; it can be used as a tool for creativity and an expression of love. The story of grief and the apparent mundanity of family life is accompanied by Michael Giacchino’s Married Life, better known as the theme from the Disney Pixar film Up, which also tells the story of loss in later life.

The spot marks a thematic departure from Apple’s recent holiday ads. Last year’s told the stylized, animated story of a girl who learned to share her gift of writing, while 2017’s featured a cinematic ballet dance through the streets with Air Pods.

‘The Surprise’ was created by Apple’s long-term agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab. A 60-second cut will be broadcast tonight (25 November).

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