Apple debuts new Christmas-themed TV ad for iPad, iPad mini, and FaceTime (with video)

Apple last night debuted a new television advertisement on U.S. and Canadian broadcast and cable networks.

The spot features a girl and her grandfather sharing a moment of holiday cheer as the girl sings “I’ll be Home for Christmas” over FaceTime between his iPad (4th gen.) and her iPad mini.

The simple ad really allows for those who are unfamiliar with FaceTime to see how it works and gives an example — perfectly in tune with the season — of how they might use FaceTime in their lives.

Apple’s “I’ll Be Home” TV ad, featuring iPad, iPad mini, and FaceTime:

Direct link to video here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is one of Apple’s better ads – ever. Not only does it fit perfectly with the season and effortlessly show off the products and technology in a real, believable way, the clean, simple audio track compels everyone in the room to stop and look to see what’s going on.


  1. that is the most vapid and saccharine apple ad i have ever seen!

    …and a total rip-off of zooey deschanel’s homemade video:

    they should have just had zooey do it, or find out if ellen feis can sing. anybody defending this utterly spiritless ad should look at the think different and switch campaigns – no comparison.

    1. Apple consistently uses its advertising to show its devices as the hero. In this ad the iPad and FaceTime are the hero for making it Grandpa-easy to have a moment in the life of his granddaughter.
      “Think Different” was a brand transition campaign and isn’t related to this sort of advertisement in any way.
      The switch campaign was just that: awareness that the morass of computerdom you’re used to (Windows) isn’t the only game in town. So also not related to this type of advertising in any way.

      1. I don’t dispute the specific points you’re making, Jim, but my interpretation is going from a different angle: regardless of the “strategy” of the ad, which is what you’re talking about, there is an emotional impact and cultural juice that an ad does or doesn’t have. ad’s either have pizzaz or not, regardless of marketing strategy.

    2. Wow, it’s so clear! Singing, two people, it’s like they just copied the video. Now that I think of it, all of their commercials are a copy of this one. Music, two people. Oh Apple please be original. No more people and no more music in the commercials.

      1. really? let’s see…ukulele, holiday ballad, webcam, young girl singing. how do you get from that to “all commercials” are like that?

        i love apple – i love apple marketing – and i hold apple to a higher standard because, in fact, they are pretty much the only company that makes great ads (racking my brain for any that even compare).

        1. Not even close to the same song, two adults singing together. If you want to claim the ukulele as similar, then I’ll give you a point. However, posting a video is not the same as FaceTime with your grandfather. One last point. YouTube has 77 videos of people playing a ukulele and singing. So perhaps Zooey didn’t invent the ukulele sing-a -long.

          1. Okay, if you don’t see the similarity, I can never convince of it on the basis of just facts – for me it’s the sum of the parts. I think the ad aspires to have the charm of the Zooey video but falls flat because the performers just don’t have any charisma, most importantly the girl (gramps doesn’t know what to do with himself). She’s ain’t no Zooey. Consider the intense charm of the original MacBook Air commercial with Yael Naim’s vocals – totally engaging.

            1. emo, definately. crush, pretty much – it’s the eyes that make me weak-kneed. but anorexic? where do you get that? her weight is normal for a real-world woman, and a bit chubby for hollywood.

            2. sorry – i made my point poorly. by “for hollywood” i meant only in the totally warped body image values of hollywood. i think she is healthy-looking and attractive.

      1. nope, only ones with a ukulele, a young girl singing a charming holiday ballad over a webcam. i would be very surprised if their marketing team did not become inspired by deschanel’s video. i guess what annoys me more than that they used it as the basis for their video, is that the result was a neutered version.

        1. Pretty weak sauce.. Females have been playing guitars for a long time, and I doubt Zooey was the first to learn to play the ukulele. They are also pretty well made to play holiday music, so even if there was inspiration here, you can hardly claim this was a direct rip off.

  2. That’s what we do with my parents. Chat on Facetime.
    We used to do Skype but my parents PC was so buggy half the time it wouldn’t work. So I sent them an iPad, Airport Express and cables. Everything was setup so all they had to do was plug it into the cable modem.
    The iPad and facetime work very well and it is easy to connect and chat.
    Now I’m going to have to get my 17 year old daughter to sing to them. That would be funny.

    1. On the contrary, the girl’s pitch is dead-on. Gramps, like us, is getting a bit impatient- they should have synced to another duo, say a soldier and his girl… the commercial as is perpetuates the Samsung depiction of Apple as your parents’ (or grandparents’) technology. Apple should be hip, not sickeningly sweet.

      1. umm, no. Ironic that people used to label Justin Long in the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads as being a hipster. Now every Samsung and Android ad features hipster douchebag narcissists, prancing around in their hipster costumes, every dude wearing a stupid hipster hat.

        Guess what- it’s the grownups who actually open their purse strings and buy stuff – the ones who don’t pirate everything they can- who care about things like grand kids and grand dads. And quality.

        The grownups have made Apple what it is today. The narcissist hipsters are worthless as consumers- they have no brand loyalty and less attention span. They’re too busy prancing.

        Me-o My-o indeed.

      2. Yes, Apple should aim its advertising at the only demographic that matters, the 20-something Peter Pan generation sleeping on mom & dad’s couch while looking for their next barista job. No wonder they ridicule their parents. If they took their parents seriously they’d be embarrassed to be 28 and still sponging. They by Android because they are cheap and so is Android. The biggest difference between the hipsters in the Android commercial and the parents having a place saved in line is the parents have a few hundred dollars to spend on Apple products. The hipsters only get $30 a week for an allowance.

        1. Your line of reasoning seems to be that for the 50-80-something demographic, it doesn’t matter if ads have any sort of cultural edge, emotional impact or charisma doesn’t matter – the old folks will scoop up saccharin crud and like it.

          The people I know in that age group (and I’m 3 years away from it) are, in fact, pretty damn hip and appreciate an impactful ad. The gramps in the video is utterly passive and flat – not the way I would want to be represented if I were 80.

          1. I’m 65 and well past video games, tinkering with my OS, and bragging about specs. Yes, what I DO care about is my human relationships. Grandpa is enjoying his granddaughter’s performance, something he might well be unable to enjoy in person. I realize that it’s important to discount and denigrate anything not high tech and whiz-bang these days, but frankly, most people with money to spend don’t give a rat’s ass.

            1. I agree with most of your points, except one: the apparent conclusion that because the demographic you reference doesn’t care about specs and does care about human relationships that they’ll respond emotionally to any old gooey schlock that’s dished up to them.

              Ultimately, the ad falls flat, in my opinion, not because of the basic concept involved – people making an emotional connection over distance thanks to FaceTime – Apple has made effective ads with exactly that design. It falls flat because it is a poorly designed and executed ad. See the original FaceTime ad for an example of how it’s done right.

            1. I don’t disagree that the actor is trying to act “rapt”, but that’s a hard thing to pull off for 30 seconds…he is silent, virtually unmoving and has little emotive expression in his face. Not sure any actor could pull it off – I don’t think this one comes close – but ultimately it’s a poorly designed ad that makes it fail emotionally for me.

              Can you imagine the ad re-done as a duet, because gramps is able to sing and play an instrument? A duet over distance? That is an ad that might move me.

              But we all know old people can’t sing or play instruments.

            2. Sorry—I believe you’re over thinking it. There are TWO faces visible. One is active, the other passive.

              What do you think happens when both are active? Countless experiments have shown that a person’s attention switches repeatedly between multiple stimuli. In this ad, the grandparent’s smiling face, unchanging, gets mentally filed, and attention is focused on the message being actively delivered by the girl. Thus the message itself—”I’m thinking of you”—comes through undiluted and is in fact reinforced by the secondary recollection of the special audience of one, discreetly observed with empathy, by you.

              Well, maybe not by you, but by me and I hope anyone else.

            3. I didn’t respond to the ad at a emotional gut level in the way I usually do with Apple ads – I’m just trying to unpack the reason why.

              Compare it with the first ad for FaceTime – it still gives me goose pimples every time I watch it. It has a lot of heart, and it gets the technology/product message not in spite of that, but through it. It could have been sappy, but it isn’t – whereas the new ad is mawkish.

              Do you not see a difference in emotional impact and dynamism between the two ads?

            4. I do see your point. I simply believe that Apple averaged us using market research based on the latest findings in cognitive science to design the ads. We are being manipulated not just on a generalized, pointed emotional level, but on a level normalized by the latest model of the target audience based on analytics tempered by cutting-edge cognitive research. The bottom line is what matters. If Apple’s calculations are correct, they’ll make a lot of money. If yours are more pertinent, they’ll make less.

            5. I bet you’re absolutely right in your analysis, and if so, it’s exactly what I’m concerned about: that the cognitive scientists are in charge and we no longer have Steve acting as the gatekeeper for the vitality of the brand. Apple’s ads have been art and art is not made by averaging the audience. if Apple has gone down the path of “average” for their marketing, they are no longer thinking different.

            6. Right on the money. The quantum Steve Jobs Variable is no longer part of the equation. We have to hope for parity, or better, with the marketing mojo of the competition. They have access to science too.

            7. I’m not a grandparent, but like I said, I love the first FaceTime ad and find all the vignettes very touching (regardless of whether they represent ME) including the one with the old couple – an old couple who are totally animated. I’m not deaf either, but find the last scene, with the deaf couple signing…one of the best clinchers I’ve ever seen in an TV spot.

            8. The “deaf” spot drew my tears. It is transcendent.

              This spot had several hooks that worked for me personally: the girl, the ukulele, and the forlorn song—I can still access the emotion I felt long ago, listening to Elvis Presley sing it while I missed my Daddy at Christmas, far off in a war.

        2. Exactly. “The rest of us” are not hipsters. They are ordinary people with normal emotions. As pointed out by Dance Dance, this hipster-Apple connection was made up by the ignoble opposition, in attempts to psychologically manipulate consumers who supposedly would recoil from being identified as pretentious, indolent slugs, but ordinary people don’t fall for such mumbo-jumbo.

          Apple should not be hip. The market slice consisting of the hip, the pseudo-hip, the wannabes, and all others whose drama-queen side overpowers their common sense—that’s a tiny market compared to vast humanity who don’t squander their precious time with petty canards against the establishment. And today, Apple is clearly the establishment.

    2. It’s a GREAT Ad.

      Very talented girl – both singing and playing smooth, confident and genuine.

      Grandfather smiling and listening just right.

      The brilliance is in the cleanness and the simplicity.

    1. Or is it sticks-in-the-mud?

      Sorry, just filling in for the grammar police who are AWOL tonight.

      No need to fill in for the pitiless self-appointed media critics, for they are legion.

    1. Great commercial but she is not the one playing the ukulele. Watch the ad closely and look at her left shoulder…this is another video hoax…her hands are huge because the superimposed her over the person who actually played…still a good ad

  3. A couple of weeks ago I attended the Rolling Stones concert in London. I facetimed my daughter and switched to the rear camera so she could see what we were seeing. She loved it. FaceTime is great for this kind of ‘broadcasting’.

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