Apple Holiday Commercial “The Surprise”: How Apple’s Selling an Experience

Every year in December IHC always looks forward to a few things: Christmas, New Years Eve, and Apple’s latest holiday ads. Whether you use their products or not, Apple continuously finds ways to stand out with unique marketing trends and memorable advertisements. This year, Apple’s latest ad “The Surprise” takes a step back from being a simple product showcase, and instead sells an experience and the overall message that their brand is about family.

The ad starts with something everyone dreads during the holidays: busy travel right before Christmas. A husband and wife with two little girls embark on a trip in a car, then on an airplane with the kids squabbling at every turn. To keep them quiet, the parents keep giving them their iPad so they can watch movies or play a game on it. Throughout the commercial, the iconic music from the opening to Disney/ Pixar’s “Up” plays in the background as well. This song alone brings emotion and amplifies the ad, especially to those who have seen the movie.

After traveling for some time, the family arrives at their grandparent’s house, where it is quickly noted that the kids need to quiet down – grandpa doesn’t like the loud noise and commotion. The kids ask if grandpa is still sad, and the ad hints that grandma has passed away recently. While playing around the house, the kids are repeatedly told to quiet down and watch a movie on their tablet, but they eventually stumble upon some old family videos to keep them occupied. On Christmas morning the kids excitedly wake everyone up and hand Grandpa a gift; inside is the iPad wrapped up with a slideshow on the screen. The family watches the slide show the children made showing how their grandparents fell in love, and how the family is together even though grandma has passed away.

In the video, it initially seems like technology is necessary to keep the children quiet (something that could be seen as a negative for phones and tablets). However, Apple spins this around through the course of the ad to show that technology is not only a good way to capture family moments with photos and videos, but is also a way to connect with others. They do an excellent job of showing and not telling in the ad; Instead of explaining all of the features their iPads can do (watching movies, taking photos and videos, creating slideshows, etc), they show these features in everyday situations. It may be easy to lose ourselves in our busy schedules and technology, however this ad shows the importance of a true family connection we still need. In a very smart marketing move, this ad makes Apple’s brand exemplify family values and the importance of staying connected.

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the appearance and message your brand conveys to your consumer. If you were to only highlight the features of your product it would seem more like an unengaging infomercial than the “experience” that Apple creates with their ads. Your message must interact with your audience and appeal to them in a way that entertains while showcasing your product. There will always be competitors out there, so it’s up to you to stand out and shine with what sets you apart. Apple’s ad “The Surprise” is an excellent reminder that advertisements and products don’t always need to focus on a sale – they can also focus on an experience.

Your brand should strive to sell an experience, not just a product.


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