TBWA\MAL Channels Lamorisse’s ‘The Red Balloon’ in New iPhone 7 Ad

By Erik Oster 

Remember The Red Baloon? The 1956 short by French director Albert Lamorisse has become something of a childhood staple and the film, which won both an Oscar for best original screenplay and a Palme d’Or, is generally remembered fondly by kids and film students everywhere.

TBWA\Media Arts Lab seems to have looked to the film for inspiration (we’re not the only ones to make the comparison) in its new spot promoting the iPhone 7’s new expressive messages capability, allowing users to send animated messages including, yep, balloons.

The spot opens on a solitary red balloon, which floats out a window, across mountains and forests to the city. There it is met by a swarm of balloons of all different colors before reaching its ultimate destination.

That description probably sounds pretty familiar if you’re acquainted with the aforementioned Albert Lamorisse film, but the 60-second spot comes across as an homage rather than a mere rip-off. Its cinematic scenes are well constructed and ultimately in service of a message that is well tied to a feature of the product. If it takes “Baloons” awhile to get to the point, its eye candy should entice viewers enough to get them there.

The spot is the latest in the brand’s “Practically Magic” campaign for the new iPhone, which launched earlier this month with TBWA\MAL’s “Midnight” and the in-house effort “Morning Ride.”

This isn’t the first ad to focus on a red balloon, though the homage in W+K’s 2014 animated Coca-Cola spot was a little less direct.

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