Let’s just state the obvious first: Apple’s 2013 Christmas commercial is mostly brilliant. It looks great, it hits just the right balance of traditional sappiness .vs. modern cool, and it has a really nice twist-and-payoff ending. Better, the footage you see in the “finished product” was actually shot and edited on an iPhone 5S … a small but crucial distinction that is a big deal but really doesn’t seem to matter to other companies cough cough Nokia Samsung Blackberry cough.
But … there is a single glaring flaw in the commercial that sort of torpedoes the whole thing. When we see slacker kid constantly at his phone and seemingly ignoring the family, he is always holding the phone in portrait mode. But when the video plays, almost all of it is in landscape. Once you notice it, it becomes jarring and almost laughable, pretty much permanently spoiling any magic the spot could have otherwise woven. It’s also inexcusable, since the twist would not have been given way in any sort of manner by having the kid hold the phone correctly … kids oblivious to the world around them while holding phones in landscape mode are an entirely common sight.
I understand that the fenderheads at the average ad agency would have missed this one small yet wildly important detail. But someone at the top levels at Apple had to approve this ad, and they have no excuse for missing such a boneheaded misstep. It could have been one of the great soft-sell spots of all time. Instead, it’s 60 seconds of landscape fail.