- Apple released a short film shot entirely on the iPhone X to promote the smartphone in China ahead of the Chinese New Year, according to Adweek. The film, "3 Minutes," reeled in more than 68 million views in less than a week of airing.
- The scripted film tells the story of a mother and conductor on one of China's longest train routes, who typically must work on the Chinese New Year and can't spend the holiday with her son. In the film, she arranges for her sister to bring her son to one of the train stops so she can see him for three minutes, but the encounter doesn't go as she imagined. During the film, an on-screen clock counts down their time together and creates a sense of urgency.
- "3 Minutes" was the first film director Peter Chan shot on an iPhone, but he previously created five "How to Shoot on iPhone X" videos that have a combined 9 million videos.
Marketers continue to experiment with video, both short- and long-form. Last year, companies were projected to spend 2x as much on online video content than TV spots and other types of content. The trick with longer video content, such as the six-minute "3 Minutes" clip, is telling a complete and captivating story while subtly letting the product blend into the content.
In Apple's case, the brand is able to use the actual product and organically show off its capabilities to create the video, letting consumers view what the product can do. The film makes no mention of Apple or iPhone X until the end, when the company's logo flashes on the screen. With "3 Minutes," Apple is the latest brand to commit to marketing products with high-quality content that doesn't necessarily seem like an ad until the last second.
The effort also underscores the value of marketers knowing their audiences and delivering content that they can emotionally connect with. For the Chinese New Year, millions of people travel throughout the country to see their family, according to Adweek. Along with the compelling story of the mom who only has a few minutes to see her son, the film includes real footage of families reconnecting at the train station, further driving the emotional element of the video.
This heartstring-tugging clip comes as Apple ramps up efforts to promote the iPhone X, which launched in China last November, ahead of the Chinese New Year. The holiday could serve as a key sales event for the new smartphone, especially as rivals like Huawei have become increasingly popular in the region, causing Apple to lose some of its share in the Chinese smartphone marketer in the past few years.
Meanwhile, advertisers continue to invest in original digital programming, which has doubled over the past two years, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Digital video was projected to reach 47% of total ad budgets last year.