A Girl Struggles to Keep a Snowman Alive in Apple's Cute Holiday Ad

Shot on iPhone 13 Pro by Jason and Ivan Reitman

Apple's 2021 holiday ad is here, and it continues the brand's recent strategy—from Damien Chazelle to Kathryn Bigelow—of having Hollywood directors shoot little films with the iPhone.

This time, it's the father-and-son duo of Ivan and Jason Reitman (Jason's film Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a sequel to Ivan's 1984 classic original, just came out) who take the reins, working with TBWA\Media Arts Lab to deliver a charming tale of a girl who tries to keep a snowman alive all year long. 

Holiday | Saving Simon | Shot on iPhone 13 Pro | Apple

The soundtrack, "You and I" by Valerie June, gives the film a lovely feel. And while some details stretch the believability—you'll definitely need more of a Yeti-style cooler if you bring a snowman camping in the summer—the story arc keeps you engaged, and the twist at the end is refreshingly nonsentimental.

There's also something else here that feels right for the times—centering the story around a child's struggle to maintain a perfect world. We saw this in Alto's beautiful holiday spot for Montefiore as well. Kids have had a rough couple of years, as the world has gone particularly pear-shaped on them. Their anxieties are real, and subtly recognizing that actually makes the magic of the holiday season—a time to reflect, and be together, and take stock—come alive. (It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to feel children's worries about climate change in this work, too.)

A :60 cutdown will run on broadcast and online TV, and there are :15's and :6's as well for digital and social. There will also be a behind-the-scenes video.

Below are a few quotes from the BTS: 

  • "This is the greatest moment of all time to want to be a filmmaker. If you want to write stories, you pick up a pencil. If you want to write songs, you pick up a guitar. And if you want to make movies now you can just pick up an iPhone." —Jason Reitman
  • "This storytelling device is just sitting there in your pocket. It gives us a chance to tell stories no matter where you grow up and allows everyone to see stories from other cultures which brings us all closer." — Jason Reitman
  • "The idea that you can just pick up your phone and start filmmaking is one that thrills me." —Jason Reitman
  • "It was so impossible just to do sync sound when I was doing the opening films. It's a lot of fun today. You could really try anything and do something that's really professional with the iPhone." —Ivan Reitman
  • "The cinematic mode is an excellent tool for racking focus from one character to another,  focus our thought and helps us tell stories." - James Whitaker, ASC, director of photography 

Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab
Directors: Jason Reitman and Ivan Reitman 
DP: James Whitaker
Production Company: Bob Industries
Music: Valerie June "You and I"

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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