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What Mother Nature would really make of Apple and the iPhone 15

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By Gordon Young, Editor-in-Chief

September 14, 2023 | 4 min read

The Drum’s founder, Gordon Young, reacts to Apple’s latest campaign, where it gets a sustainability interrogation from Mother Nature. He’s not convinced. Are you?

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Apple’s Mother Nature skit, featured in its iPhone 15 launch, is dividing the internet. To some, it’s a creative masterstroke. To others, it’s a master cringe. I’m in the latter camp.

The slick video opens with CEO Tim Cook, environment VP Lisa Jackson and a whole load of Apple’s executive team nervously preparing for a visit from Mother Nature, played by Octavia Spencer.

You can understand why they have been reduced to quivering wrecks. This Mother Nature is a badass bully.

Her sarcastic inquisition is used to highlight Apple’s environmental credentials. And the video ends (no spoiler alert needed as even those who have not seen the film will have guessed this) with her grudging approval that Apple is on nature’s side.

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Well, fancy that.

However, the overall feel of the video is corporate slick, which would put many consumers on high-bullshit alert.

And even though it was rooted in irony, Apple took itself very seriously. If Mother Nature existed, this lot would expect her to travel to see them.

Many online warriors were quick to go on the attack. Said one: “It was cringe, really, really cringe. I also don’t appreciate Apple gloating on one hand about CO2 while making MacBooks and Macs non-upgradable or fixable when an SSD fails to make landfill or ending support for perfectly usable devices for no reason again making unnecessary waste.”

The point is particularly pertinent with the news that the new iPhone 15 will replace its lightning charging cable with USB-C, rendering millions of Apple chargers redundant overnight. You can argue that this will be better for the environment in the long term, but there is no doubt their charging strategy over the last few years has generated a huge amount of unnecessary waste. The Drum alone probably has its own mountain named after it in the local landfill.

However, this cluttered and gimmicky film really fell down because it managed to distract from the fact that Apple is doing some sterling work in terms of the environment.

For example, its latest sustainability report says it has already reduced gross emissions by 45% since 2015, which is truly impressive. Other initiatives that should have got more focus were the claim that switching freight from air to sea reduced emissions by 95%. Or how about the iPhone 15 uses 100% recycled copper, 100% recycled cobalt in batteries and 100% recycled rare earth elements in magnets?

It has also been pointed out that Apple is also using software to tackle climate change and, for example, giving real-time EV charging availability on Maps or a tool that tells users when cleaner energy is available on their grid so they can make informed decisions when to use power.

But none of this would impress a real Mother Nature. I suspect she would decree the best way for them to help the environment is to shut the business simply. I hope they don’t, but think how much hot air that would save.

Media Measurement Apple Marketing

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