Apple’s New Ads Capture the Creative Processes of James Blake, Samin Nosrat and More

'Behind the Mac' campaign lets you watch a song, art, architecture and a recipe come together

Photographer Tyler Mitchell shows how he created a new portrait series using only items in his bedroom. Apple
Headshot of David Griner

For several years now, the “Behind the Mac” campaign has been putting a spotlight on creatives of all stripes who work on Apple products. Most recently, Apple built on the vibe of the campaign to launch “Creativity Goes On,” a celebration of the diverse kinds of content and ideas coming to life in quarantine.

Today, the brand launched a new series of ads in the “Behind the Mac” campaign, going into more depth than ever about the creative process of the influential personalities featured in the spots.

The campaign from longtime Apple agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab features musician James Blake, photographer Tyler Mitchell, cookbook author and TV host Samin Nosrat, and architect Zhang Xi.

For Blake and Mitchell, Apple created long-form videos digging deeply into their creative process—specifically for Blake’s new song “Ask for More” and Mitchell’s series of portraits shot entirely in his bedroom.

Mitchell received global attention in 2018 when he became the first Black photographer in Vogue’s 125-year history to shoot the magazine’s September cover—a portrait of Beyoncé. One of his portraits from that issue has since been acquired by The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

In a 15-second, square-cropped clip for the campaign, Salt Fat Acid Heat author Nosrat is shown working on a recipe for her next cookbook. Nosrat soared to fame in 2019 with the success of the Netflix miniseries based on her book. Named to Adweek’s Creative 100, Nosrat began her career as a chef and built a large following through her cooking columns for The New York Times Magazine.

Xi, an architect and CEO who alternates her time between Shanghai and Zurich, also stars in a 15-second spot, in which she describes how working in isolation can help you see things that groups might miss.

Somewhat ironically, given her starring role in an Apple ad, Xi has publicly questioned the idea of “star architects,” saying in a TedX Zurich talk that architecture thrives through selflessness and a feng shui philosophy of blending form and function with nature and a building’s surroundings.


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@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
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