Apple has produced an eye-opening representation of the intrusions that pass unnoticed in our everyday lives by reimagining app trackers not as nebulous digital algorithms, but the flesh and blood cashiers, waiters and tradesmen with whom we place our trust.
Positioning Apple as a paragon of virtue in a cutthroat digital ecosystem, Tracked coincides with the new App Tracking Transparency functionality in iOS 14.5, which seeks to redraw the balance of power between technology firms and individuals as well as reframe a complex issue in a simple visual manner.
Following one unwitting everyday man as he acquires a coterie of unwanted followers while going about his business, the exchange begins in a coffee shop where more than a latte is picked up. What follows is an increasingly bizarre trip around town as a taxi driver, bank clerk and shop assistant join the growing gaggle of snoopers.
The humorous piece concludes on a serious note when the depictions are revealed to be an allegory for our digital selves, where a lack of online privacy has become the norm.
Apple is positioning itself as a bastion of consumer interests by breaking ranks on the issue, enabling people to sign off from permitting tracking by apps. Equating the new functionality to God-like powers to snuff out unwanted interlopers, the fun piece makes a virtue out of what can be a dry and esoteric argument over intangibles.
Set to the tune of Mind Your Own Business by Delta 5, the TBWA/MAL spot also drives a stake through the heart of counter-arguments from the likes of Facebook, which has long sought to frame the issue in terms of the potential harm to small businesses, as well as a reduction in relevancy for advertising to those who opt out – but these arguments have gained little traction.
With Apple having hit upon an inexpensive point of differentiation from its rivals, as well as a handy stick to beat competitors with, other big industry names are weighing up whether to follow suit – chief among them Google, which may introduce an anti-tracking feature of its own for Android.
Apple already appears to have struck a cord, with the vast majority of US iOS users switching off tracking and just 4% actively choosing to voluntarily permit tracking of their online movements.
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