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 Star Smartphone Advertising

The development of cellphones to min-computer Smartphones with sophisticated cameras, ushered in unprecedented opportunities for recording high definition stills and moving images, social sharing, and mobile viewing, that have become, it hardly needs to be said, an essential part of everyday life for many users globally.

Attempts by brands to be one step ahead of the competition with technological initiatives and new product offerings, have resulted in some remarkable campaign commercials by some of the brightest stars in the constellation of advertising agencies and filmmakers.

1. Samsung Galaxy S, Battle Epic

Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett Worldwide, Chicago, USA

Filmed in several Czech Republic quarries, the epic Galaxy S smartphone commercial was directed by filmmaker extraordinaire Bruno Aveillan.

The medieval phantasy is spectacularly cinematic with a superb performance by the cast of protagonists in an action packed extravaganza of bloody combat scenes, that keeps one riveted to the screen no matter what size it is.

2. Apple iPhone 11 Pro, Daughter

Advertising Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab, Shanghai, China

Based on a true life experience, Apple’s 2020 Chinese New Year long-form storytelling commercial is about a young mother that steadfastly decided, against cultural norms, to assert her independence by raising her daughter on her own.

The tensions that decision caused between her and her own mother, is at the heart of Apple’s Chinese New Year message to families, that “no matter how much we all grow apart, humanity has the power to bring us together”.

Directed by lauded filmmaker Theodore Melfi, the superb cast, led by award-winning Chinese actress Zhou Xun, deliver powerfully emotive performances in their respective roles.

Filmed entirely with an Apple 11 Pro, by esteemed cinematographer Lawrence Sher, the production values of the commercial are impressively cinematic and rewarding to view.

3. Apple iPhone 7, Frankie’s Holiday

Advertising Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab, Los Angeles, USA

Lance Accord’s directional skill brings this unusual Festive Season story to filmic life with remarkable emotive depth.

The commercial is a metaphoric take on author Mary Shelley’s iconic Frankenstein aberration played here by actor Brad Garrett. I love the detail of Mary Shelley’s portrait hanging on the wall of Frankenstein’s mountain cabin.

Frankenstein’s heart-warming attempt to find some social interaction solace resonated with millions of viewers, and received wide coverage on all the major TV News Channels.

4. Samsung Galaxy Note10, Alpaca

Advertising Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), New York, USA

The Galaxy Note10 with S Pen’s motivational proposition, that it has the power to do ‘everything, so you can do anything’, was directed with comedic skill by filmmaker Nicolai Fuglsig.

The song ‘Apache’ by Michael Viner’s ‘Incredible Bongo Band’ provides a fitting soundtrack to this amusing send-up of the fashion industry’s ‘fads and facies’.

5. Apple iPhone 7, Romeo and Juliet

Advertising Agency: TBWA, Kuala Lumpur, Malasia

The superbly produced commercial to highlight the iPhone 7’s high resolution filming capability, features two young stars that enact a famous scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with amazing self-assured stagecraft and great charm.

The scenario’s surprise reveal ads further enchantment to the 30 second Apple commercial that one wishes was longer.

6. Apple iPhone 5, Misunderstood

Advertising Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab, Los Angeles, USA

Directed by filmmaker Lance Accord, the iPhone 5’s ‘Misunderstood’ festive season scenario won an Emmy for ‘Most Outstanding Commercial of the Year’.

The soundtrack song ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ is by American Indie Rock singer/songwriter, Cat Power aka Chan Marshall.

Although the commercial was loved and shared online by millions of viewers who generally described the story as ‘heart-warming’, there were some dissenting voices.

The ‘dissenters’ were of the opinion that Apple were promoting Smartphone addiction that leads to self-absorbed isolationism, and a lack of personal interaction, that causes so many family misunderstandings.

My personal take on their criticisms is that they raised a valid social issue of concern that I fully share. The reality however, is that for young and old, Smartphones are here to stay as an established means of mobile connectivity options, and there’s no going back.

My considered conclusion is that Apple’s thoughtful message that iPhones can be an empowering means of visual self-expression, that speaks louder than words, is highly laudable.

7. Samsung Galaxy A, The Way You Are

Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Paris, France

Directed by filmmaker Didier Borgel-Hansen, ‘The Way You Are’ features a social experiment to discover how teenagers would react to their parents having ten minutes of unrestricted access their Samsung Galaxy A smart phones, in return for a free trip to their desired holiday destination.

The trepidation and anxiety the offer caused for the teenagers provided an insightful revelation about how much of our personal information is stored on our cellphones and what it can reveal about our lives, social morality, and innermost thoughts.

Samsung Galaxy’s social experiment initiative, sparked many social media interactions between parents, sociologists, and teenagers, that were widely lauded and won an Epica Gold award for ‘Personal Electronics Devices’.

8. Samsung Galaxy, All Eyes On The S4

Advertising Agency: Heimat, Berlin, Germany

‘All Eyes On The S4’ recalls a time not that long ago, when one-off, publicly staged brand promotions were filmed live and the footage edited for online commercials. The highly popular ‘out-of-home’ advertising, that employed as many senses as possible, became known as ‘Brand Activation’.

Samsung and Swisscom AG, a major telecommunications provider in Switzerland, joined forces in a brand activation exercise to promote Samsung’s S4 smartphone.

Heimat developed a cross-media campaign that centred around a staged competition in Switzerland’s four major rail stations.
Participation by members of the public in the ‘stare down S4 challenge’ were streamed live on YouTube and Samsung’s S4 microsite, reaching a tally of 500,000 views of the first day’s events. In total the campaign achieved 1,5 million live stream views, 151,000 microsite interactions, and over 12 million advertising impressions in Switzerland.

Myles Lord, Heimat’s Chief Creative Officer remarked; “It is noteworthy that In this digital age, real life experiences still count the most and actually touch people the most”.

Sadly, I very much doubt that we will see a return to ‘Brand Activation’ as we know it in the near future.