Apple’s Stunning New Commercial

When Apple has an idea, they really run with it.

Take their new ad for HomePod, their spin on the Sonos home speaker. The HomePod fits on a shelf both discretely and affirmatively, another distinct Apple product on display in your home. It’s simple and beautiful, but it also plays music exceptionally well. For most home audio brands, an ad campaign might focus on the product’s biggest features or price, but Apple is the pro at making branded statements.

In this vibrant new video from director Spike Jonze, whose visual aesthetic in films like “Where The Wild Things Are” tend toward the surreal, we meet a young woman arriving home at the end of an arduous day. She sets her things down, turns on a tune, and shape-shifts the room to a space that’s all her own, where she can dance and feel free. It’s a bit dark, or maybe just drab, for such an ad; it’s not traumatic or dangerous, but realistic in the sadness of the daily grind, the realistic confinement of tiny city real estate, and the immediate need (these days) to physically burst out of our bodies. (That said, she owns one of these speakers, so she’s probably not down and out.) I don’t see it as instant happiness so much as necessary, if luxurious, survival.

This is what advertising looks like in 2018. It’s realistic. It’s empathetic. It’s escapism. It’s almost certainly not about the product itself, but how the product can take you away to a better place.

Of course, we don’t need a HomePod to play music, nor to dance around our homes in private as we escape the day’s stresses. But we sure would love to feel what this woman is feeling. And to be able to do it with such freedom. (Music=Freedom is a common theme in Apple’s music products, the way music gives us permission to express, and the way these products get out of your way so that you can do that.)

This is a beautiful piece of filmmaking—how did that do that?—but it’s also an elegant way to market your product: Show us why it matters, deep down inside our toe-tapping souls. And let it rip.