Canon? Sony? Feh. Apple’s the One to Watch. Proof #1: Their Oscar Ad

by Hugh Brownstone7 Comments

Samsung is pulling out all the stops to take on Apple (and increasingly, everybody else), but as the ads shown by both companies during the Oscars prove, it’s hard — to mix metaphors – to hit a moving target.

Let’s place the Apple ad in context by first acknowledging that Samsung is on a tear:

· Its 4K internal-recording NX1 is turning up the heat on both the Panasonic GH4 and Sony a7s (let alone the Canon C100 and C300).

· Its revenue from global 4K TV sales in the third quarter of 2014 were just about four times as large as Sony’s, but it dominated overall LCD TV shipments as well, 22.8% vs. Sony’s 6.1%.

· It’s catching up to Apple in the tablet market (by unit volume, anyway), though Apple still led as of the third quarter of 2014 with 22.8% of the global market, vs. Samsung’s # 2 position at 18.3% (in fact, Apple’s year over year tablet growth shrunk by 12.8% while Samsung grew by 5.6%).

· It already sells more cell phones than Apple (24.4% vs. Apple in #2 position at 12.7% in the third quarter of 2014, but Samsung is beginning to lose share to Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo.

So what does all of this have to do with our headline?


Because the one fact we haven’t mentioned is that while Samsung leads in unit volume, Apple is KILLING Samsung on profitability and brand loyalty.

In other words, with Android-based systems (the basis of all Samsung tablets and phones) competing on price and the Chinese nipping at its heels, Samsung has to distinguish itself from the lower end: it has to become more like Apple by offering a superior product, experience, and brand affinity.

And they’re trying like hell to do just that.

Which means Apple has to keep upping its game – which, to be fair, it seems to do irrespective of Samsung or not.

Then again, the greatest rivalries in history – Frazier/Ali, Jobs/Gates, Tesla/Edison, McEnroe/Conners – always demanded that the competitors rise to the top of their games.

The Samsung/Apple rivalry was on full display during the Oscars last night, and it was outstanding. [bctt tweet=”Apple Shoots Oscar Ad on iPad Air 2″]

Samsung came out of the gate early with a beautifully-shot, Apple-esque series of ads. Taking several pages out of Apple’s playbook, the product shots were as clean and simple as anything you’d see in an iPhone launch video, and the hip people thing was…hip (I don’t really remember anything more than they were hip).

But saunter over to Samsung’s web site for my favorite hip people vid of theirs: a cool start with a reference to THE BIG LEBOWSKI; and then, among other things, Key & Peele with a wonderful brainstorm for a one-episode counterpart to LOST which they’d call FOUND; members of SPINAL TAP playing with a tablet; a cute kid dancing to a scene from DESPICABLE ME; and a couple at home binge-watching what looks like HOUSE OF CARDS.

Expensive as all get-out, and great fun.

And… derivative (though definitely better than the campaign Samsung ran in 2012 satirizing Apple fanboys waiting on line for the newest Apple device).

But I began to wonder: where’s Apple? And then: how can Apple top this?

Somewhere around an hour and a half in, the Apple ad came up, almost unrecognizably small as it began. But I concluded within seconds that they’d pulled it off – they’d raised the bar.


There was legendary director Martin Scorsese providing the kind of inspiring narration that a year ago Robin Williams gave us with Apple’s “Your Verse”. But this time the subjects were LA County High School for the Arts students, shooting their projects over a weekend with iPads (and jibs, dollies, rigs, and who-knows-what-else). The kicker? The whole commercial – a behind-the-scenes look at the kids’ efforts — was also shot on an iPad Air 2 (I’m guessing a pile of ‘em, but I’m not sure).

In one fell swoop, Apple managed to do the following:

· Focus on creators with their passion and hard work, rather than consumers (reinforcing Apple’s primacy among the creative class, as in: “We get you. We are you.”)

· Focus on the future, our youth (and implicitly showing Apple’s commitment to both)

· Focus obliquely, perhaps subliminally, on income inequality (very, very clever: this ad stood in sharp contrast to the last shot-on-an-iPad-or-iPhone ad which was done with the car manufacturer Bentley — the height of conspicuous consumption — even as we consume tremendous quantities of all kinds of things like rare earth magnets when we buy iPads and iPhones. It also stood in sharp contrast to the Your Verse series with its mix of global locations and fantastically expensive-to-get-to settings)

· Highlight Apple’s own evolution and understanding of the world in which we live

· Define beauty as something one can create from very little (not really, but OK)

· Tug at the heart strings for those of us who remember Robin Williams fondly

· Remind those of us who have more than a passing interest in filmmaking that ultimately it’s always about the story

Maybe I’m giving Apple too much credit.

But I don’t think so.

Apple shot its Oscars ad with the iPad Air 2

Via The Verge:

Apple just debuted its Oscars ad and unsurprisingly, it's centered around making movies. The commercial features several groups of high school students as they shoot different projects using the iPad as their camera, overlaid by an inspirational voiceover from Martin Scorsese, who extolls the virtues of hard work and experimentation as the keys to creative success. And while the piece has the kind of delicate score and evocative images that one would expect from an Apple ad, the spot was actually shot on the iPad Air 2 itself.


For the commercial, Apple partnered with the LA County High School for the Arts, a performing and visual arts school located in Los Angeles. Student filmmakers were provided with iPads and shot their projects over a weekend, during which their efforts were documented — also using an iPad Air 2. That behind-the-scenes footage is what makes up the ad.

Read full article at The Verge “Apple shot its Oscars ad with the iPad Air 2”


Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. The Ipad was probably the cheapest bit of kit used for this commercial, it’ll shoot video ok, but no focus pulls, manual exposure changes, bad sound, you need lighting etc etc… I wonder if the video was shot with the original lens too. I don’t think the Ipad is bad, I just think using it as a camera with professional gear around it makes it kind of stupid.

  2. ONeillKeegan I suspect you’re right about the cost, Keegan.  But I think there are at least two larger points to be made that are anything BUT stupid: 1) the commercial was a success, even though it was shot with cheap, consumer capture device (thus: better to know storytelling and even cheap gear to the utmost, than to not know your story and have expensive gear that you don’t know how to use; and 2) every disruptive technology begins cheaper and crappier than the premier product of the day (think hard disk drives, computers, or even horseless carriages — cars were actually banned from San Francisco early in the 20th century because they were a menace). We are witnessing a disruption, and this is just one more data point.  Is anyone going to shoot a feature film on an iPhone?  They just did — and scored a deal — at Sundance!

  3. HughBrownstone ONeillKeegan Right on Hugh! My buddy Barry Andersson has been preaching for 2 years about how the smart DP will learn how to use an iPhone on set as it will be a useful tool – and here were are!

  4. HughBrownstone ONeillKeegan I do understand the fact that you can do great things in motion pictures with just the basic technology but this commercial felt like they were trying to say you can do all this with an Ipad, but the Ipad is probably the least important bit of kit in the video for the results they got from it. I didn’t think it was all that creative either but that is just my judgment comparing it to certain “amateur” videos, some might have different tastes.
    The thing that bothers me is the fact that Apple is sort of telling some customers that don’t know much about film making that it’s all possible because of the Ipad, when in fact it’s mostly possible because of the gear around it, precise control of the light, the sound processing, extensive color grading, the idea, storyboards, directing… 
    It’s not a bad video, but how much did it cost in the end ?

  5. ONeillKeegan HughBrownstone Darned fair points, Keegan!  To an uninformed consumer, it does appear that the iPad is the key, when it is really everything else.  But how less true is that for any other camera?  In the wrong hands with a crap story and no lighting or dynamic camera movement, an ARRI ALEXA 65 is an incredibly expensive paperweight.

  6. That is also a good point, I just wouldn’t understand why you would by an Ipad to film, that’s why I am pretty critical about it all, it just seems like a dream of filmmaking simplicity and hope about everyone being capable of nailing those shots. I guess that’s the goal of many if not most of commercials but I’m a tough customer.
    (I highly doubt people that buy Alexa’s are wrongly informed about it’s capabilities but you are right about the gear used and user creativeness)

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