March 6, 2018

Watch: Spike Jonze's New Short for Apple Rethinks What an Ad Can Be

Starring FKA Twigs, the filmmaker's branded short featuring the recently released HomePod is a sight to behold.

Branded content is really popular. After reporting on the three commercials Walmart aired during this past Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony, in which three female directors were tasked with making one-minute shorts that emphasized the company's recognizable "blue box," Apple's latest four-minute (!) promotional material has dropped courtesy of director Spike Jonze

Is it a music video, a commercial, or an auteurist's mindbending short film? Perhaps it's all three. One thing is for certain: Jonze's latest for-hire work serves as a push for Apple's new HomePod, a sleek device the company describes as "a powerful speaker that sounds amazing and adapts to wherever it's playing. It's the ultimate music authority, bringing together Apple Music and Siri to learn your taste in music."

From Apple's description, the device sounds like a cross between a personal DJ and an extremely invested musicologist.

As you may be aware, Jonze, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter for 2013's Her, is no stranger to getting behind the camera to create a killer ad, and for this deep-dive into the HomePod, Jonze enlists the services of English musical performer FKA Twigs.

After a dreary, depressing day at work, Twigs returns to her apartment, beyond bummed and looking to unwind. In need of a pick-me-up, Twigs speaks to Siri through a conveniently placed HomePod, and the device plays the recently-released single "Till It's Over" by Anderson .Paak.

In an instant, Twigs uses her otherworldy telekinetic powers (and Chaplin-esque movements) to expand the apartment beyond all comprehensible means. The walls shift and pull back, revealing secret, kaleidoscopic rooms as elation overtakes the woman as she comes across a magical influx of happiness and, quite literally, another version of herself. 

If there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that Jonze has made something with tons of replay value and food for thought. 

It's a fun ad that goes deeper than you'd initially expect. What is it saying? That the HomePod provides a brief diversion from a meaningless existence? That within the device lies your greatest friend, another version of yourself? That tiny apartments can only be enjoyed when you burst through their walls?

If there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that Jonze has made something with tons of replay value and food for thought. If branded content is truly the way of the future, there are many worse ways to go.       

What do you think of Spike Jonze's HomePod short?  Have you watched it on a loop like we already have? Let us know in the comments below.

Your Comment

14 Comments

This is an excellent short & FKA twigs is always electric. I hope more commercials do this and bend more towards making art if possible. Though I was surprised to hear Jonze did this, it's so Michele Gondry (reminded me of his Beck video)

March 6, 2018 at 2:31PM

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'From Apple's description, the device sounds like a cross between a personal DJ and an extremely invested musicologist.' or you know you could just say its a smart speaker, like amazon's echo. Unless your being paid by apple I suppose.. really all you needed to say was here's a piece of branded content by Spike Jonze, which is more than reminiscent of Virtual Insanity, Jonathan Glazer's Jamiroquai video which is more impressive and twenty years old.

March 6, 2018 at 3:19PM

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keith
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Salty. This is cool and fun and I'm glad it's popping up lots of places. I thought, ah wow, Spike Jonze figured out a way to make something cool like the Virtual Insanity video, but different, and Spike Jonze-ier. I'm glad Apple paid for this. A whole bunch of talented people got money to make something cool. Man, the internet sucks, Keith. It's an awful place to hang out most of the time.

March 6, 2018 at 6:46PM, Edited March 6, 6:46PM

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Sad Cameraman
Points Cameras
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I get the virtual insanity connection but not sure I would argue more impressive... Honestly just seems like natural the evolution of Spike Jonze; he loves dance and effects. Takes me back to weapon of choice - fatboy slim.

March 7, 2018 at 10:25PM

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I love this! FKA Twigs dancing and facial expressions, this amazing song, and Jonze directing the hell out of this...

Not that I had any interest in a "Homepod," but this commercial succeeded in grabbing my attention!

March 6, 2018 at 5:44PM

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John Haas
Cinematographer
848

We saw this last night...and our take away was, WTH... what are they selling...this is weird .... and now I read this article this morning ... sorry but for this consumer this is a fail.

March 7, 2018 at 8:21AM, Edited March 7, 8:21AM

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Expand your mind, consumer... this is a win in breaking out of the mold. Don't stand too close Michael.

March 7, 2018 at 2:25PM

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Chris Kas
Jack of all trades
293

Huge win in selling people expensive electronics. Really a victory for the medium of film.

March 8, 2018 at 11:31AM, Edited March 8, 11:31AM

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Jacob Floyd
Writer / Videographer
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The Ad is crafted wonderfully. But it's a mutuated idea from Glazer's Virtual Insanity for Jamirquai. Beside this I have to say that it left me uncomfortable as the message appeared to be really sad to me. People are getting lone and sad and they can find a support from a digital AI... that's a bad message to me. An there are a lot of signs about the intentionality of the message, starting from the director's choice: Spike Jonze directer "Her", a movie about a lonely man that falls in love with his AI assistant. The sad girl in the Ad get a double from a mirror suggesting that the AI resemble you as it learns from you within time. She also mimic a love hug with herself. This time maybe they won't push too far and the reflection of her smiles at the gestures and then leave her on the sofa. To me it's a clear path underlined: lonely people, this is for you, you can get relief from your sad life through (our) technology.

I don't want to say "Come on! get outside and have friends!". But you have to be honest: there are thousands of ways to promote a speaker. This is the message I got and this is the target and the mentality behind it. It's a little bit worrying if you think of the future. You can do better, Apple.

March 7, 2018 at 8:59AM

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ginuz
75

It's almost as if the commercial is subjective...

March 7, 2018 at 2:27PM

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Chris Kas
Jack of all trades
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Ginuz, I couldn't agree more, this commercial left me depressed and wanted to dial back the clock to the 70's.

June 19, 2018 at 4:11PM

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Amazing and very smart. Music gives us the emotion and desires we dream of.

March 8, 2018 at 9:00AM

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Well done, as you'd expect from Jonz. Definitely owes quite a bit conceptually to the 4-dimensional space as depicted in Interstellar, though this one's a bit funkier! I agree with others here that as a device and as a message, the idea that Tech and cool Stuff is the answer to your otherwise drab world is both a lie and false promise- and in many cases the causes of said drab world. Do they have these in all the cramped little dorms of the Chinese factory workers, so they too can get their funky on after a long day making Apple products?

March 9, 2018 at 1:46PM, Edited March 9, 1:46PM

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Douglas Bowker
Animation, Video, Motion-Graphics
241

This is pretty much exactly what an LSD trip can look like for the first time user of acid. The legacy of Steve Jobs lives on!

March 9, 2018 at 2:08PM, Edited March 9, 2:09PM

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Love Twigs and coming from a skate video history myself I will always appreciate Jonze. Everyone needs to earn a living and if you're going to do a huge ad it may as well be as good as this, but...

...the problem I have is trying to sell a product by telling you that it will make you less lonely. All the ad tells you is that it contains a speaker that plays music, which has been possible for a really long time. We live in a time of perpetual re-hashing of tech that was already possible, and perpetual ads telling us it will make us happy. Consumerism 2.0. Not to mention the data Apple/Google/Facebook collects and sells at your expense. Knowing all your likes, dislikes and habits is really why they want you to have one, not because it will make you happier.

Also, these little taste-making-viewpoint-narrowing boxes were not invented by the acid tripping psychopathic narcissist Steve Jobs, but by the acid tripping novelist Aldous Huxley: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World

March 12, 2018 at 12:30PM, Edited March 12, 12:30PM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
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