Apple’s holiday ad about the iPad is a tearjerker with a twist

Smuggler's Mark Molloy directs spot about a family's use of the device

Published On
Nov 25, 2019

Editor's Pick

Just in time for people's Thanksgiving journeys, Apple has unveiled this year’s holiday ad, and if you thought an iPad wouldn’t make you feel emotional after all these years, you’d be wrong.

The film, set to start airing Monday night, centers on a family with two young girls traveling to their grandfather’s home for the holidays. As the girls squabble in the car on the way to the airport and then whine and misbehave on the plane, the parents hand them the family iPad to keep them entertained and quiet (yes, parents—we have all been there.)

Once at Grandpa’s house, we see the parents again using the device as a tool to keep their lively offspring out of trouble—particularly as the atmosphere, with Grandpa “still sad” after a recent event, seems awkward. However, Christmas morning comes and there’s a twist: it turns out the girls have been using the iPad for more than just watching movies and taking silly photos. While the parents have been using it as a babysitter, the kids have in fact been busy creating a whole multimedia album for their grandpa, using old family photos and videos to express how much they miss their grandmother who’s passed away.

The film is beautifully directed by Smuggler’s Mark Molloy, with just the right amount of pathos and authenticity, and you may find yourself welling up in the final scene. Plus, unlike with much holiday advertising, there’s a strong product message. That, as Apple describes it, is that the “iPad is not a passive tool for consumption, but in fact an active tool for expression.”