Apple, this holiday season, didn't pull a Nokia, creating the suggestion that it shot its newest Christmas ad with the latest iPhone but fudging some of the details. It instead shot the commercial with the 5S and didn't overtly mention it.
It also didn't fall into the trap of its summertime "Designed by Apple in California" ad, which felt like a two-minute brag, with people staring in wonder at their Apple devices. (According to consulting firm Ace Metrix, Bloomberg Businessweek reported back in June, the ad scored a 489 on the company's scoring scale, which was well below the industry average of 542 and even farther below Apple's usual performance.)
The Christmas ad, which debuted around Dec. 16, offers the story of a big, extended family, together at home for the holidays (think "The Family Stone" with more kids and no drama). Video clips are set over an almost mournful version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," as the ad shows the family warmly bonding in snowy weather, and then, at the end, all of them featured in a short film created by the misunderstood teenage son, on his iPhone, and played for everyone on the living room television.
When the video surprise finishes, tears are in the eyes of the mom and the grandmother. And, if you're like me, they'll be in yours, too.
It's an ad you want to watch again, and surely knowing this, Apple also released a full-length version of the video the son creates).
The staring, this time, is through Apple's device, at its user and his loved ones. With that figured out, Apple got this one just right.