Apple Does it Again!

Don’t sell who they are; sell them who they want to be -Jay Chiat, Chairman of ad Agency Chair/Day

It takes real talent to create marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing.

Apple has done it once again with “Frankie’s Holiday” as their Christmas commercial.

The overall scheme when doing all these digital marketing tactics is that consumers will be believing a story.

Apple’s “Frankie’s Holiday”

The Father of Brand Positioning Al Ries points out that their iconic logo is prominently displayed as well as their product.

Th story is about an unexpected holiday visitor who finally receives the warm welcome he’s always yearned for.

How Apple Did It

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

The human mind does not work by remembering facts.

It works by remembering emotions.

Take history for example.

History was a boring class we all took under the name “social studies”. Many of us forgot what we spent hours every day for years learning.

However, most people get their history from great shows and movies, not from textbooks they read in high school.

So a great story has a few features to it:

It has a beginning, middle, and end.

Groundbreaking discovery, I know.

But when we dissect this simple concept that is not easy to deploy, you too can make great art like Apple.


The beginning is primarily composed of a hook.

At first, the ad looks like a trailer to a movie.

Psychologically, there’s a pattern we recognize and our amgydalas whisper “Meh…another movie trailer”.

Then…..we see an iPhone and Apple logo prominently displayed.

Incongruence is something that psychologically delights and draws the mind’s attention closer.

“Wait…a break in pattern?! I better investigate, this might be new information for a pattern we memorized.”


The Middle is the “plot”.

The plot isn’t about Apple’s product. The star of the show is Frankie and how he is laboriously working on something.

He receives a mysterious package, and then hobbles into town.

The iPhone is just an extra making a cameo.

Having the iPhone and movie-trailer looking commercial was mysterious and intriguing to people (remember, incongruent things delight the human mind).


The end is all about resolution.

Frankie has a hiccup with his lights, but despite the crowd still being frightened, a little girl reaches out and embraces him, encouraging him to continue.

It’s a message about using technology to connect with one another in meaningful ways.

The end of any great movie or commercial needs to have something fulfilled. This is where customers will be given an action to take (such as getting an email, or click here).

For Apple, they show that they still got it by making it a message about human beings and how we should treat each other, rather than their product.

This is something Jim Stengel (former CMO of Proctor and Gamble) dedicated his workto in a book called “Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies”.

Stengel’s work discusses how the greatest companies focus on 1 of 5 fundamental areas of human ideals (you can get a quick summary here but I urge you to buy the book if you want to be taken seriously as a marketer).

How Can You Make Something That Good?

One thing I recommend is to start watching more movies (top rated ones, both old and new) but watch them from a different perspective.

Watch them to understand the story behind them.

You must become a master at telling stories through great marketing.

That involves an intimate understanding of human psychology and a respect for the masters of marketing, both past and present.

This involves a constant discipline of “finding out”, otherwise known as intellectual curiosity.

Once you have this discipline, you then find out where is the attention, how you should create for that medium, and then deploy the message at scale.

That’s the only way you can expect to produce meaningful work.

That also happens to be how you do touching Christmas advertising using Frankenstein’s monster in it.

Great marketing doesn’t feel like marketing at all.


Omar M. Khateeb is an unorthodox and innovative marketing leader with a background in science and medicine.

He publishes an article a week on LinkedIn and draws from various experiences.

His interests reside in sales psychology, neuromarketing, and self-development practices. He often reads 2–3 books a week and combines concepts to execute strategies in new ways.

Check out his virtual bookshelf here to find your next great read, and connect with him on Twitter or SnapChat.