Some observers are going all Abraham Zapruder over Apple's new commercial for the iPhone 5, painstakingly analyzing several frames around the 30-second mark in an effort to identify a bulky black watch worn by a kid drumming on a table. Is it the first glimpse of Apple's much-anticipated iWatch? Maybe it's a Newton by Nixon or some other esoteric, oddball timepiece. Some say it's a Nano mounted on a wristband, and 9to5Mac suggests it's "perhaps a subtle troll on Apple's part." Theories abound, page views soar … and predictably, Apple hasn't offered an explanation.
The company may have lost some luster of late, but this mini media frenzy speaks volumes about its continued lofty standing in the popular culture and consumer fascination with its products. It's tough to imagine a similar level of overheated interest in a possible peek at a new iteration of Microsoft Office, or even some new Samsung device—or any ballyhooed product by any other company on earth, period.
In fact, I think this effort from TBWA\Media Arts Lab qualifies as an especially successful example of content marketing, inadvertent or otherwise, based on the amount of commentary and conversation generated thus far. (The spot, released on Thursday, is approaching 1 million YouTube views. For Apple, that's not extraordinary, but iWatch watch is still building steam, and plenty of folks were probably distracted over the holiday weekend and are only now, for the most part, catching up on the story.)
The commercial itself is about immersion, in music, and the iPhone's ability to deliver the soundtrack of our lives. (The 60-second spot, titled "Music Every Day," is a sequel of sorts to "Photos Every Day," last month's :60 about iPhone photography.) In the new spot, people of all kinds are seen in various places—at work, in school, at in the gym, on the bus—listening to their favorite tunes on the device. The piano soundtrack is especially effective—and thankfully, a world away from "Chopsticks." It's springy yet soothing, neither too up nor down, a perfect accompaniment for the evocative but commonplace imagery.
That we never hear what each user is listening to, but feel their intense connection to the music as we observe their reactions, strengthens the universality of the message—casting the iPhone as a natural and ubiquitous part of daily life, just like our favorite songs.
Sure, other brands could go this route, but would they be as credible? Apple's gravitas in the marketplace and the passion of its fans make the approach here seem entirely believable. The watch business is an added bonus (like advertising working overtime) and a credit to Steve Jobs's simple yet savvy, sleek-product-as-hero marketing style that continues, in large part, to make the brand tick.
Spot: "Music Every Day"
Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab
CCO: Duncan Milner
ECD: Eric Grunbaum
GCD: Chuck Monn
CD: Simon Cassels ACD/AD: Antoine Choussat ACD/CW: David Young
AD: Anthony Williams, Dimitri Kalagas
CW: Elizabeth Marks
Executive Producer: Eric Voegele
Agency Producers: Perrin Rausch, RJ Pomeroy , Chris Shaw, Trang Huynh, Katie McCain
Production Co: Reset/Iconoclast
Director: So Me
DPs: Arnaud Potier, Alexis Zabe, Mathieu Plainfosse
Editorial Co: Nomad Editing Company, Inc. Editors: Jared Coller, Kevin Clark
Post Co: The Mill LA
Lead Flame Artist: Edward Black Colorist: Adam Scott