Earlier this year, Apple built its entire Grammys ad campaign around stars singing their hit tracks via personalized emojis, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that might be the case once again with the newest video of Old Town Road.
The video, shared by viral country/hip hop crossover star Lil Nas X on his Twitter feed today without any context or source credit, uses Apple’s “Memoji” feature—which allows you to customize the look of animated emojis, or Animojis—to perform Old Town Road through the minimalist lens of simple icons and animations.
Adweek has confirmed the brand had no role in creating the video. That said, Apple is surely glad to see its Memojis taking on a life of their own. The feature was announced in 2017 and rolled out with iOS 12 in 2018.
Typically there aren’t many questions around the origins and legitimacy of music videos, but Old Town Road has been an exception to this and many other unwritten rules. The song from relatively unknown Lil Nas X has become the unquestioned smash hit of 2019 thanks largely to its role in fueling memes across TikTok, Twitter and just about any other modern video platform.
Despite its huge success, Old Town Road has never had an “official” music video. Lil Nas X has posted DIY versions on his YouTube channel, including one made entirely from Red Dead Redemption 2 footage and one for his remix with Billy Ray Cyrus that only shows stock art of three horses for the song’s entire duration.
So quite a few fans seemed confused about whether this was “the” music video—or whether Apple was hopping aboard the Old Town Road meme wagon. The answers: no and no.
Below is a look back at the official Apple ads the brand produced for this year’s Grammy Awards. The Memoji version of Florida Georgia Line’s “Simple” in particular seems like it might have been an inspiration for the newest iteration of Old Town Road.
Don't miss the Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience Nov. 16-19. Gain insights from leading sports figures on how they navigated a year of upsets and transformation and what's in store for the coming year. Register.