And the Emmy winner for the “Outstanding Commercial – 2014” is, Apple’s “Misunderstood”. The 2013 holiday commercial written by TBWA/Media Arts Lab Ad Agency and directed by Park Pictures tells the story of a standoffish, teen reluctant to spend time with his family during holiday season. The commercial portrays the teen glued to his phone, a battle for attention many parents know to be very real; however, in the end, it turns out the teen was not ignoring his family, but instead compiling a heartwarming video on his iPhone of all their time spent together. “Misunderstood” was a well-executed commercial, but by no means was this victory easy for Apple. The nominees for Outstanding Commercial brewed a fierce competition this year. Apple’s commercial has up against popular, powerhouse ads like Budweiser’s “Hero’s Welcome”, General Electric’s “Childlike Imagination”, and Nike’s “Possibilities”. All these commercials did something right, why did Apple’s “Misunderstood” end up victorious over the rest? These are questions which have the advertising world buzzing. So, let’s break it down and see the fundamental components that led “Misunderstood” to clinching the Emmy.
1. Maintain a Perfect Product to Story Balance: TBWA/Media Arts Lab Ad Agency made sure the story of the commercial did not over power the presence of the product. This is a problem that many agencies run into when running an emotionally charged campaign. Emotional invoking commercials such as “Misunderstood” can reap massive positive outcomes; however, they also run the danger of being a complete train wreck. If not executed carefully the emotional storyline can easily take over a commercial causing viewers to become too engrossed in the story, and losing any message about the product the company was meaning to portray. “Misunderstood” exudes a perfect balance between storyline and product message. The commercial masterfully interweaves product message and features into a powerful, emotional story.
2. Appear Genuine: Unlike many other ads out there, “Misunderstood”, comes off to its viewers as intrinsically genuine. Authenticity is an issue many ad campaigns face. Today, consumers are much more “ad conscious” than they were in earlier times. Many consumers can recognize when an advertisement is invoking emotion solely for the purpose of the company to gain something, and are in turned off. “Misunderstood” was executed in a manner were its product message was introduced subtly as a opposed to abrasively. This in turn successfully portrayed Apple in a light which made its message seem genuine to its viewers. Popular tech magazine, The Verge, pointed out “It doesn’t matter whether Apple products are perfect or better than everyone else’s. All it matters is that they care about the user more than anyone”. This statement highlights the fact that viewers watching the commercial received the messages Apple was trying to send out, and the message was not questioned. Viewers truly felt they witnessed and experienced genuine feelings from the ad, engaging in an authentic and powerful connection with the Apple brand.
3. Implement an “Emotional Pivot”: “Misunderstood” was additionally so well received because it executes a technique in its ad coined as the “emotional pivot”. An emotional pivot is when an advertisement moves form invoking strong negative emotions to strong positive emotions. Charles Young, CEO of Ameritest, an internationally recognized advertising testing firm, argues that for emotionally driven advertisements to be successful an emotional pivot is essential. Through much of Young’s research at Ameritest he claims that only by invoking negative emotions can the positive invoking emotions reach a “high volume of intensity”. He further concludes that “the boundary between these two states of emotion – lies the most dramatic, brand-creating moment of the piece”. It is in this “pivot” moment of Apple’s “Ad”, when the teenager’s true reason for being on his phone becomes revealed, that viewer emotional reception runs the highest.
When running a new advertisement there are a million variables that must be considered. As Apple’s “Misunderstood” success story showcases, maintaining a balance between product message and storyline, appearing genuine, and executing an emotional pivot are three of those variables you never want to forget.