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Apple ‘The Archives’ / TBWA\Media Arts Lab

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My first “smartphone” was an iPhone 4 model which my grandparents bestowed on me to help us “keep in touch”. Back then, it was a hint for me to call them more often. Now we iMessage, FaceTime and send Snapchats on a daily basis. Smartphones have evolved our expectations about how a phone should work and have reconstituted what is “normal”. But none of the innovation and progress made would be possible without the original iPhone paving the way for the development of more high tech smartphone models. With this in mind, Apple’s latest campaign is a nod to the world we’ve left behind.

Promoting the Memories feature in Photos, ‘The Archives’ by TBWA\Media Arts Lab is an emotionally packed 100 second film. The work begins with a shot of an older gentleman shuffling through a dark and neglected photo archive. The man expertly makes his way through the daunting photo library as he selects and pastes together photos of a young girl growing up. He painstakingly collects the images into a montage for an old-fashioned projector. The film then cuts to a modern montage sequence which was made in seconds using the Memories feature in the iPhone 7.



This June marks ten years since the first-generation iPhone was released, making ‘The Archives’ particularly relevant. Timed to coincide with the iPhone’s birthday, the advert makes us take a moment to reflect on the constant innovation going on within the brand. Just as splicing photos together into a film reel has become archaic, certain original features of the iPhone have gone out the window. Early ads proclaimed the benefits of “fast” 3G and an intuitive touch screen. But features like GPS, voice recording and even Siri were absent from the first few models. The brand has set the benchmark for what our society demands from a phone which ‘The Archives’ delicately hints at.

But aside from the impeccable timing, the clip speaks to viewers on a humanistic level. This ad is part of a series of emotive films that are typical of the brand’s larger ‘Practically Magic’ campaign. The entire series is characterised by emotional storytelling, stripped-back music pairings, and subtle product placement, making each advert a unique venture with its own story to tell. The campaign introduces us to the understated, but no less important, new features of the iPhone 7. The meticulously curated archiving process of the past is now condensed into less than five seconds but the advert drives home the sense that the emotional impact of a montage remains the same. While original ads talked up the great camera installed in the phone, Apple now goes one step further to show us how to organise the vast amount of photos that the camera takes.

Such beautiful renderings for a seemingly small feature might seem counter-intuitive but the ad celebrates the small differences that have a bearing on everyday functionality. Tech might be changing, but this ad, as well as the others in ‘Practically Magic’, reinforces the idea that our needs remain the same. Memories are so important to us that we were once willing to spend hours piecing together memories. Today, those memories remain just as important, but we don’t need to wait until we get home to upload our photos onto a computer before using bespoke software to create a montage. Instead, we simply tap the button within our phone to enjoy and share our memories that much quicker. The iPhone isn’t reinventing the wheel, it’s simply making the wheel more user friendly. Apple’s iPhone, if nothing else, gives us the gift of time, a theme perfectly portrayed by ‘The Archives’.