In November of 2018, tech company Apple released their annual holiday advertisement “Share Your Gifts” on YouTube and aired it on various cable channels. The ad showcases breathtaking animation and features 16-year-old singer-songwriter Billie Eilish’s “come out and play”. The ad’s theme matches its title, encouraging individuals to be proud of their creations and share them with the world.
The video follows Sofia, a curly-haired, freckled young woman afraid to show anyone her creations. This is evident throughout the advertisement. For instance, when she is shown to be working in a bakery, she creates an adorable replica of her dog’s face in the dough she is kneading, but sheepishly squishes it back into a loaf of bread when her boss walks by. Indirect characterization like this proves Sofia to be adorably quirky throughout the ad, such as when she draws sunglasses in the fog of a bus she rides, but she’s too scared to be judged so she swiftly wipes away her doodle. Even in the comfort of her own apartment, she blocks her dog’s eyes from her art and hides away sheets of her creations in a pale green and gold box.
On one windy night, Sofia leaves her box open next to the window, and her dog sees a chance to let her gifts out into the world. It knocks the window wide, letting the winter wind take the sheets through the town. Sofia hurries down the stairs of her apartment complex, anxious to keep her secrets inside for fear of being judged, but it’s too late. As she runs into a town fair, an elderly couple grab a sheet, examine it, and smile at her, giving Sofia a silent signal of approval. More of the fair-goers appreciate her creations, and it dawns on Sofia that her creations were are than good enough and are meant to be shared.
Apple made the decision to make the holiday advertisement of 2018 the first to be fully animated. This choice gives a lightheartedness to the advertisement and its goofy scenes, such as the aforementioned one when Sofia draws sunglasses in the bus window. To show how its creators made the video, the company released another video to its YouTube channel, entitled, “Holiday – Making of Share Your Gifts – Apple”. In the video, animators explain that the entire town itself was created at a small scale. Cameras panned around the set, close enough to give the illusion that the buildings are life-sized. The workers then added in the characters, using their MacBook Pros, creating simply stunning features for the whimsical Winter Wonderland.
The ad itself does not include any voice acting, but it features “come out and play”, a single from Billie Eilish. The song begins mellow, with Eilish singing, “And I know it makes you nervous; but I promise you, it’s worth it. Don’t hide, don’t hide.” The background music is soft throughout the first verse, and virtually fades away towards the end of the chorus, until Eilish sings, “Come out and play.” It crescendos as the wind rushes into Sofia’s room, whisking her papers away. The music choice matches perfectly with the storyline, as it starts out shy and quiet, but reveals a pitter patter of eighth notes that signify Sofia’s heartbeat as she races to conceal her creations. In the climax of the plot, when Sofia realizes that her gifts made others happy, the heartbeat, well, beat, falls away to allow for Eilish to finish the song and get the message across, “Come out and play.”
In choosing to make the ad fully animated and selecting Billie Eilish’s “come out and play” to accompany the story, Apple effectively delivers its message in its 2018 holiday ad “Share Your Gifts”.