Apple's new spot for Chinese New Year makes a powerful case for the iPhone X, yet not a single phone appears in the seven-minute film.
Apple tapped Hong Kong director Peter Chan to shoot an emotional tale of a holiday reunion between a mother and son at a train station in China, with the iPhone X as his camera. The focus isn't on the gadget itself, but on the art you can make with it, the priceless family memories you can capture. It's a very different creative approach from some other spots for the iPhone X; it's not a tutorial, and it doesn't have any dancing poop animojis.
The spot, called "Three Minutes," has been a hit with Chinese viewers; a version of the film posted on social network Weibo has 37 million views. Apple had a 9.3 percent share of the smartphone market in China last year, according to IDC, and it's hoping the Phone X will be a hit during the lunar new year holiday season that starts Feb. 16.
The movie, which Apple says is based on a true story, focuses on a mother who has to work aboard a train during the holiday, making a six-day journey from the southern city of Nanning to icy Harbin in the north. The train makes a three-minute stop in her town, meaning she has just three minutes to reunite with her son. As the clock ticks, the boy recites his multiplication tables, to show how hard he's been working in her absence. There's also a poignant twist involving a lie the mother told her son.
Trains and travel are a constant theme of ads during the Spring Festival, with a mad rush of people returning to their hometowns. Apple is tapping into that theme and adding a social message too; it's honoring the people who work through the holiday to make it possible for everyone else to see their families.
The film has a timeless, nostalgic feel, and that's partly because it doesn't show any phones or other tech gadgets in its film about the power of its smartphone. In Apple's movie, people are chatting, laughing and sharing food together on board the train. If this was real life, in China in 2018, a lot of people would be glued to their screens.