Chapter 23 Apple Misunderstood Campaign Makes Technology and Family a Priority

/ 1 min read

Apple is no newcomer to exemplary advertising, achieving their first Emmy award in 1998.

Their second award would come for the 2013 campaign Misunderstood.

Following firmly in the footsteps of the John Lewis campaigns, the ad tells as a heartfelt story before revealing the brand at the end.

The main character, a seemingly withdrawn teenager, spends time over Christmas creating a video montage for his family. This is used as a vehicle to walk the audience through a myriad of familiar Christmas scenes, including presents, Christmas trees, decorations, snowmen and snow angels.

If Pampers produced the least Christmas-y advert, then Apple created its antithesis.

True to form, subsequent innovations to the campaign have told a similarly sentimental story, revealing the brand at the conclusion, and in 2015 celebrity guests Andra Day and Stevie Wonder performed ‘Someday at Christmas’ within a similar family setting.

The campaign succeeds with emotional appeals — not only through its emotional storytelling and musical numbers, but goes further “beyond the product to tell stories of how technology affects our culture and daily lives.

Thus, the main character in the 2013 advert leads the audience to believe he’s absorbed in his phone, only to reveal the character’s heart-warming gift at the end.

Despite its Emmy, the campaign has been met with considerable criticism.

Many viewers have become tired of sentimental stories and quaint soundtracks. Others consider the piece to be a sad commentary on our image, social, and video obsessed culture’, criticizing how the main character is always using his phone, missing the events around him.

Nevertheless, Apple has joined the ranks of companies using a replicable narrative-based format which engages consumers emotionally. As with the John Lewis adverts, the intention is to generate discussion of the brand as opposed to necessarily displaying the company’s products, and in this it clearly succeeds.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Give your emotional narrative a heartwarming twist to catch people off guard and make them smile.

Table of Contents

Intro150 Years of the Best Holiday Campaigns
Chapter 1 The Genesis of Holiday Window Displays
Chapter 2 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
Chapter 3 How Coca-Cola Invented The Father of Christmas (Or did they?)
Chapter 4 Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
Chapter 5 Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Chapter 6 Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
Chapter 7 Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised
Chapter 8 NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
Chapter 9 Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation
Chapter 10 Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
Chapter 11 Folgers Advertises the Intangible
Chapter 12 Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy an Ad Agency
Chapter 13 Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming
Chapter 14 Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
Chapter 15 M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing
Chapter 16 Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
Chapter 17 Target Keeps it Simple with Their Black Friday Catalog Focusing on Price
Chapter 18 Pampers Silent Night Raises $40 Million for Charity
Chapter 19 Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress
Chapter 20 John Lewis Focuses on Storytelling Over Brand
Chapter 21 Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools
Chapter 22 American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
Chapter 23 Apple Misunderstood Campaign Makes Technology and Family a Priority
Chapter 24 REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition
Chapter 25 Amazon’s “Give a Little Bit” Campaign Gives a Lot
Chapter 26 Spotify’s 2017 “#2018Goals” Campaign Speaks Loudly
Chapter 27 Google Home’s 2018 Alone Again with Google Assistant Campaign is the Ultimate Nostalgia


Kunle Campbell

Kunle is a trusted advisor to ambitious, agile ecommerce brands. His core strengths lies in growing revenue by developing and executing scalable customer acquisition and search marketing strategies for online retailers.  He blogs, runs webinars and teach courses about ecommerce growth on He also hosts an ecommerce podcast dedicated to growing and scaling online retail businesses.

View all posts by Kunle Campbell

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