Apple TV spot incidentally provides positive reinforcement of aging

Having spent a lifetime in the ad industry, it’s hard for me not to comment on a TV spot from Apple that features older people.

Usually, my evaluations of the depictions of older people in advertising are negative. I’m scathing about the use of outdated stereotypes or worse, downright ageist portrayals. But increasingly, there is evidence of more sensitive and sensible depictions.

While the ageing person in Apple’s spot is a ‘prop’ and not the target (I wonder why they think older customers wouldn’t also be interested in such memories!) I think the ad provides positive depiction of ageing. What do you think?

This report in Adweek notes that the spot follows a solitary archivist who curates and frames, pressing letters from an old printing press, editing films from an editing splicer operated by a foot pump. Some of the equipment might even seem familiar to us old ad folk.

The final result of his labours is an iphone movie, appears as if by magic on a young mother’s phone.

While some may see this as aligning older people with outdated (pre-digital) film techniques, I think it shows the alignment of age and artisanal knowledge, wisdom and unique skills. A positive net impression.

As a general piece of marketing communications it works. However, I saw a 30 second version of this spot in Australia, which failed spectacularly. Unless you have seen and absorbed the 90 second version, the 30 second spot is totally incomprehensible. It’s what often happens when you cut-down from a longer length spot.

In the ad business we used to advise that if you want a great 90 second commercial, first make a brilliant 30″, then extend it.