Apple's HomePod Ad. Are we creating value or just being creative?
A few weeks ago I saw this advert for Apple’s (new?) HomePod. First, if you haven’t, watch the ad below, titled "Welcome Home".
Okay, it is amazing right? The director behind this is Spike Jonze. You may know him from Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and, one of my favourite movies ever, Her. We can say he is one of the most innovative filmmakers out there. And this is further proof of that. If you watch the behind the scenes, you can see all the practical effects that went into this, plus hours of rehearsal and a lot of money (I can imagine). But it is Apple, so they can afford it.
This video was a big subject between my film peers, with almost everyone sharing it. My first reaction when I saw it was, this is amazing and beautiful. Once I finished it, I began to wonder what exactly was Apple selling me? If I wanted to go buy it right now, I couldn’t, because I didn’t know what I should buy.
This is the latest campaign of Apple to position its HomePod speaker against other brands as Alexa (Amazon) or Google. The ad only shows the speakers in two shots (Warren, 2018). Barely visible for anyone who was not really paying attention. This is purposefully to sell you an experience while watching it, to get you lost in the music and the dancing. Nuno Bernardo (2014), transmedia producer, says that audiences don’t buy content but experiences.
I know Apple sells itself as a brand. So maybe this was just a way of selling the brand itself and not the product. To make themselves stand out amongst the criticism of their product being locked to Apple Music (Glenday, 2018). But what is the value of this? Does this video has value as a short film? As an advert? As a marketing tool? As a music video? Or it’s just something creative?
Csikszentmihalyi (1996) says that creativity is something that is valued enough to be added to the culture. We are in a moment when companies are not just creating products or services but experiences. They are being creative in the way they sell you things. Because we are bombarded every day with so many products. And this can be translated in the most innovative adverts, whey they not only sell you a product but a concept, a brand, a lifestyle, an idea. My question is also if this is creating value in the film field, I do think so, or also in the marketing or branding field? I am not sure.
Bernardo (2014, p.54) states that “the real value of content is not so much a function of the product itself, but what it means to us and how it mirrors the self back and makes our own lives seem infused with meaning”. So if the video has meaning to us it has a value for us. If a lot of us find it valuable and the critics and field find it valuable, then it legitimises its value in the culture.
If Apple wanted to create a campaign that everyone is talking about and not focus on the actual product they are certainly winning.
Is this Spike Jonze's film powerful enough to make users switch from Amazon’s Alexa to Apple’s HomePod? The question remains.
Meanwhile, take a look at the amazing backstage video to see how it was done!
References and Bibliography:
Apple HomePod. Welcome Home by Spike Jonze. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=305ryPvU6A8 (Accessed: 10 April 2018)
Bernardo, N. (2014). Transmedia 2.0 : How to create an entertainment brand using a transmedial approach to storytelling. beActive Books.
Collide TV. Apple HomePod Making Of From AdWeek - Behind The Scenes. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go6Hpal8fUA (Accessed: 10 April 2018)
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: HarperCollins.
Glenday, John. (2018) Apple commissions Spike Jonze to film idiosyncratic HomePod ad. Available at: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/03/07/apple-commissions-spike-jonze-film-idiosyncratic-homepod-ad (Accessed: 11 April 2018).
Henry, J. (2006). Creative management and development (3rd ed.). London: SAGE.
Warren, Tom. (2018) I can’t stop playing Apple’s clever new HomePod ad. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/7/17089920/apple-homepod-ad-fka-twigs-spike-jonze-anderson-paak (Accessed: 11 April 2018).