I’ll be honest, I am a sucker for holiday ads. The gentle acoustic soundtrack that swells majestically for the final act, the emphasis on magical moments, the joyous mix of sentiment and emotion.
Apple’s annual efforts almost always work stunningly. Highlights include the stunning Sway from November 2017. It showed a girl in a snowy city scene, dancing down the moonlit streets as she listened to her AirPods. She bumped forcibly into a guy, shared an AirPod with him and they twirled, jumped and, yes, swayed together down the streets, along a wall and even into the night air as the moonlight transformed into a spotlight.
And the following year’s Share Your Gifts was a beautiful animation with haunting Billie Eilish soundtrack.
But this year’s ad, just released, is different in lots of ways. First, it lists the father-and-son team of directors: Jason and Ivan Reitman, a detail usually kept under wraps. Reitman senior, of course, directed Ghostbusters, for instance.
Second, it was shot on an iPhone, the 13 Pro, to be specific. The method of filming is usually kept quiet, too.
Third, there are no Apple products to the fore. Honestly, I’ve watched this ad quite a few times now, and it’s almost impossible to see any. Not that Apple has ever overloaded its ads with its own products but this takes things to extremes. Maybe that’s because it’s prefaced with the words Shot on iPhone 13 Pro.
It’s also unusual because it begins when the holidays are over.
Saving Simon is about a snowman rescued from melting by a girl who wants to keep him. It’s a fast-moving story that follows the year ahead, with the snowman kept, mostly, in a freezer. When there’s a power outage at Thanksgiving, the girl, Olive, sleeps on the kitchen counter so she can check on Simon as soon as the power is back.
And it ends, unsurprisingly, on a comic-then-touching note, with a surprising reunion and a sincere family moment. I’ll let you watch it for yourself, but I’d say it’s the latest in a successful series of Apple holiday ads.