Apple’s ‘Misunderstood’ Ad Is Subversive

iphone 5cThere has been a great deal of discussion about the emotional content and impact of Apple’s new “Misunderstood” ad. The ad shows a kid who’s seemingly overly involved with his phone and not participating with an extended family visit and Xmas fun.

The kid is “misunderstood” by his family and, initially, by us. We initially see him as one of those loners, overly involved with technology and lacking in social skills.

He seems to be marginalizing and isolating himself from social interaction — just as smartphone critics charge. But at the end of the commercial (lo and behold) he reveals a video consisting of footage of the family’s holiday adventures. He has been “present” all along.

It makes his mother and grandmother in the ad cry (and potentially us). We realize that good things do come from smartphones and even from those who seem to be too wrapped up in them.

In this way it “subverts” the current anti-smartphone narrative about mobile devices causing isolation and alienation from family and friends. What do you think about the ad and its subtext or message?

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6 Responses to “Apple’s ‘Misunderstood’ Ad Is Subversive”

  1. Ted Paff says at

    Love the ad.  But as the father of 2 kids with noses firmly pressed up to iDevices, its my experience that the cool video (or any other outward focused output) is rare.

    The ad is effective in its purpose of suggesting that a desired emotional state comes after purchase and use of a product.  That is marketing.

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    Agree the phone is a distraction and source of separation among parents and kids. That’s my experience. I’ve got a daughter who’s having trouble studying for High School finals because she can’t get away from the pull/lure of the iPhone and Instagram 

  3. Andrew Shotland says at

    And turn down that damn rock and roll and get off my lawn!

  4. Jeffrey Magner says at

    I agree with @ted. Sure it’s “possible” to create a video like that on your smart phone, but who is going to actually do it, as portrayed in the video? Have you been on Facebook recently? To present a video mashup of 3 second clips is hardly “showing up” for the holidays. Put the phone down and throw a snowball, kid. 

  5. Greg Sterling says at

    Yep. I just think it’s very interesting how Apple (or its agency) has taken on this “stereotype” of the destructive impact of smartphones and tried to stand it on its head.

  6. Stefan says at

    Looks like we have some disapointed Fathers here!

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