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Apple’s first privacy-themed iPhone ad is fun, quirky–and compelling

Without detailing features or criticizing competitors, this TV commercial makes the case that we care about privacy more than we may realize.

Apple’s first privacy-themed iPhone ad is fun, quirky–and compelling
[Photos: Benjaminrobyn Jespersen/Unsplash; Chris Barbalis/Unsplash]

For years now, Apple has emphasized the importance of protecting its customers’ personal data over monetizing it–so much so that I’ve written that one of the company’s best products is privacy. As of today, the company is doubling down on that sentiment. It’s unveiled its first consumer-oriented ad that focuses on privacy–and as you would expect from an Apple campaign, it’s pretty clever.

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The new TV spot is called “Private Side.” Instead of droning on about why privacy matters, Apple uses the ad to playfully show you the steps you already take to protect your privacy every day. In other words, your actions show you already know your privacy is important in your everyday life, so why shouldn’t it be important on your phone?

The commercial begins with cuts showing various “no trespassing” and “keep out” signs before transitioning to a “beware of dog” sign, then a shot of two men speaking at a table in a diner before abruptly halting their conversation when a waitress comes over. Cut to closed filing cabinets, people locking drawers and doors, and shutting blinds and tree house hatches. My favorite scene shows a man enter a bathroom where another man is already at a urinal. The newcomer then walks four urinals away before he feels comfortable relieving himself.

The ad concludes with the line “If privacy matters in your life, it should matter to the phone your life is on” and a new tagline: “Privacy. That’s iPhone.” Apple’s traditional logo also gets modified for the spot, replacing the leaf with the U-lock of a padlock that snaps shut.

Apple doesn’t use the commercial to highlight any of the steps it takes to keep your data private from themselves and others. Nor does it reference other companies, such as Facebook and Google, who are regularly skewered in the press over privacy issues (Apple called them out at CES instead). Instead, the focus is on addressing the fact that consumers may claim or think that privacy isn’t that important, without realizing the number of real-world daily actions they take that demonstrate just how much privacy matters.

Along with being a slick piece of marketing, the ad is a great first step in elevating national awareness of just how much privacy matters to us–even if we can’t always verbalize why. And as more of our financial and health data moves to our phones in the coming years, the public’s desire for secure and privacy-focused devices is sure to only increase. With this commercial, Apple shows it’s ready to capitalize on that desire.

The new Apple privacy ad premieres tonight nationally and runs through March Madness in the U.S. After that, it will roll out globally.

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