The iPhone 7 Plus takes such great portraits, everyone you run into on the street will want one—whether you actually know them or not.
Apples latest ad, which aired during NFL football this weekend and on Sunday night’s Golden Globes, takes place in a Greek seaside town, where a young woman is visiting her grandma—or, in the local language, her “yia yia.”
The younger woman snaps a photo of the elder. It draws such vocal praise that soon, everyone else in the cafe is clamoring for their own, sparking a chain reaction through the streets. Soon, she’s capturing a parade of local characters—mailman, baker, fisherman, barber, priest—anyone who can get in front of her camera.
It’s all to promote the “Portrait” mode on the smartphone’s photo app, which uses the dual-lens setup on the iPhone 7 Plus’s rear-facing camera to better measure depth, and sharpen the focus on the subject while blurring the background. It also falls, aptly, under Apple’s “Practically Magic” tagline, the tech-heralding bit of pith that smartly evokes Arthur C. Clarke’s oft-cited third law—or perhaps more accurately, leverages its evolution into pop mythology.
That “magic” is, here, as in other recent Apple ads, largely about the smartphone as a vehicle for better storytelling—vividly photographing an international trip, or crisply filming your daughter’s part in the school play, or adventurously documenting a city during the darkest hours of the morning—all in ways that previous, lesser technologies couldn’t handle.
While some of the brand’s older advertising has also played with that creative impulse as a tongue-in-cheek vehicle to fame, the personal, more heartfelt positioning (even when humorous) perfectly leans into the psychology of what it’s actually selling as upscale hardware in a mobile-driven, socially connected, image-saturated era—a more facile, flattering and arresting window between your life and the wider world.
While the new ad might risk seeming to poke fun at yokels who’ve never seen a camera before, its spirit is friendlier than that, if plenty contrived. Their vanity is the universal kind—everyone wants to look better than they might. And in this saga, the true hero is the young woman, who is burnishing, saving and sharing her experiences with rich personalities in a quaint locale—just like you might wish to do.
Still, it’s probably best you don’t have to nail it in just one take.