‘Bulbs’ ad for the new MacBook Pro is one of the greatest commercials Apple has ever made

“I try not to get all emotional about these things, so please forgive this outburst: I think this is one of the greatest commercials Apple has ever made,” Ken Segall writes for Observatory. “This spot is so artfully constructed, and so intensely energetic from the start, it literally embodies the ad’s concept. That being: ideas have tremendous power.”

“The montage is built upon the foundation of the recurring visual: a line of exploding light bulbs that seemingly goes on forever. I love that the images representing civilization’s greatest ideas are not the “usual suspects.” Depicting a range of great ideas allows the ad to weave in a sense of humor — thus toilet paper can share the stage with space exploration,” Segall writes. “This is the intelligent wit I’ve always loved to see in Apple ads.”

“If I had to whine about something — and of course I must! — it would be the payoff. This artful buildup of sound and images all leads to … the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro,” Segall writes. “Not to diminish that cool bit of technology, but the concept of this commercial is so enormous that the ending lets some air out of the balloon. How perfect it would have been for the ad to simply end after the line: ‘Ideas push the world forward.’ A quick fade to the Apple and the bigness of the ad would remain intact. (Of course, it would then be a brand ad, and not a MacBook Pro ad.) But you know what? A great spot is a great spot. The strengths of an ad can far, far outshine its flaws. This is the new-century version of Think different, and I very much love it.”

Segall discusses four more recent Apple ads – three more hits and one “cringe” – in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, the payoff is the issue. As we wrote of “Bulbs” the first time we saw it: Fire. The wheel. Flight. Touch Bar. Alrighty then.

Apple debuts new ‘Bulbs’ TV commercial for MacBook Pro – November 17, 2016


    1. Terrible ad.

      Oh Apple, you think of yourselves as so smart.

      “Let’s do an ad with a bunch of light bulbs. Ya! That will be a testament to Steve Jobs and also show that we are all about creativity and ideas. That our products are a platform for people’s ideas and creativity.

      And let’s have the bulbs smash! That will signify breaking boundaries! Ya! We’re so cool.”

      Meanwhile, not a single memorable thing comes out of that. I have no idea what product I’m supposed to buy. I do remember the old Macintosh briefly shown in the ad. It makes me think that Apple is resting on their laurels and living in the past.

      Can’t believe I’m saying this, but this Microsoft ad is great and spot on:


      1. Its much simpler than that:

        When an ad needs to LITERALLY have a line of text (its at 1:23) to explain its symbolism…

        …the symbolism has failed and thus, so has the ad.

        That’s why “bulbs” is a failure.

      2. That is their best ad in recent memory. They just show the product in all its glory, which is much better than showcasing dancing idiots twirling electronics, making misleading comparisons to Apple products, or exploding light bulbs.

    1. @ ramisueng

      My apologies.

      I missed your tech review. Could you direct me to such. Not that it contradicts virtually everything that I have read about the new MacBook Pro, but I am sure that with your extreme technical abilities it could lend us all some balance to the popular opinions.

      Or the NEW Mac Pro for that matter.

    2. Yes, specification is how we all use computers. In fact, I’ve always needed to know what brand of processor is in my computer and what speed the processor is. Oh, along with the bus, and, and, and…. in order to do my AutoCAD work on my Mac. Spec’s are VASTLY important to know. Much more so than knowing whether or not I need to install virus software that soaks my clock cycles, or how much bloatware and legacy code is chewing up my ability to work…

      Yes, specifications are king, certainly so…

      NOTE: I have noticed that the while the German culture is often consumed with odd details (some valid, but many not), my visits east show the culture is vastly obsessed with specs. I am NOT saying “ramiuseng” is Chinese, I am merely saying his/her comments reminded me of something I had noted in the past abut the Chinese culture. “What is the speed of the iPhone processor?” I don’t know. Who cares? Use it. See how fast it is. Is it fast? “Yes, amazingly fast! But how what are the MHz speeds?!” Right…..

      Um, how about this. The MHz speed of the iPhone is: Use it and you’ll do your work more efficiently, more securely, and faster than any smartphone in the world today. There. That is the speed of the new iPhone. Now get to work!

  1. It’s clearly a first generation version and will clearly evolve over time, but for me it’s a great idea if only for the Touch ID integration. Personally what I like best is that rather than adding functionality to the screen in a way that doesn’t make sense it removes things from the screen and then adds new functionality to them separately.

    For years I thought they could add a screen to the touchpad to display the portion of the screen you were onto that one swipe represented the actual distance you would be moving whilst the main screen displayed your entire work area.

  2. I lost interest before I ever saw the MacBook Pro. There was a spattering of previous Apple products throughout the ad, but not enough to tell me this had anything to do with Apple. Interesting that the MacBook Pro was hiding in a cave. I get the whole circle analogy with the caveman and fire image, but one could argue that Apple is keeping the MacBook Pro, and all Macs for that matter, hidden away in some dank space barely seeing the light of day. I have tried so hard to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, but with each passing day their decisions baffle me. I guess change is hard.

  3. Big waste of lightbulbs IMO. 🙂 (I guess it might be CGI – who knows these days…)

    I had no idea what his ad was trying to tell me I could do for my Pro audio setup with a new Macbook Pro. Nor what the specs are that would make me choose to replace my existing Macbook Pros (with usable ports in out of the box – and with magsafe) with a new model. I had no idea what the conglomeration of ideas was meant to indicate.

    I’ve watched it a second time and even now understanding what they were trying to vaguely indicate, the sequence of thought isn’t correct either.

    Oh well – it’ll probably “win awards” or something… 🙂

  4. The bulb ad is a bad ad; It seems to be a public service warning from the Consumer Products Safety Commission to be on a lookout for exploding bulbs.

    The logo at the end shows whom to contact about exploding light bulbs.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.