Apple ad tries to play your heartstrings like a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo

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Social video experts at Unruly review "The archives", the latest viral by Apple.

Though we enjoy the sci-fi implications of imagining there is really a little old man inside your smartphone working tirelessly to make you cry, we imagine this is probably just a metaphor.

9 / 10

Few brands can claim to have had Apple’s impact on the culture of video advertising. Though Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking "1984" Super Bowl campaign is rightly cited as a turning point for the medium, with dancing silhouettes and rivalrous friends popping up along the way, the tech giant’s defining marketing moments now surely number in the hundreds.

So for the brand that’s done everything, where do you go next?

The smart answer is pure sentiment, and Apple has done just that with "The archives". Supporting its iPhone 7, the campaign takes the smartphone’s capacity to make home movies, collect photographs and then set the whole package to the schmalziest song on your iTunes library - and turns it into a heartfelt short film.

Apple calls this new function "Memories" and its in-house creative team has certainly brought that tinge of bittersweet nostalgia to bear here. Be warned - this is the kind of ad that tries to play your heartstrings like a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo.

Not unlike the very end of Raiders of The Lost Ark, we open with an old bespectacled archivist wheeling a trolley through a vast and overstuffed building.

In a montage set to a composition by Luca D’Alberto, the clerk meticulously gathers artefacts from across the archive. Yellowing photographs. Reels of film. We see him chopping, editing and mixing this footage manually, before leaving his creation playing on a flickering projector.

The archivist’s film-within-a-film is a home movie called "Together". In it, a young couple and their children are seen growing older together, as the footage jumps between different periods and pivotal moments. Watching it, the archivist sheds a tear and, to be completely honest, the audience probably does too.

To make matters worse, the home movie is scored by Lykke Li’s heart-wrenching cover of Unchained Melody.

In the final moments of the ad, we see that the archivist’s home-movie was in fact a product of the iPhone’s "Memories". Though we enjoy the sci-fi implications of imagining there is really a little old man inside your smartphone working tirelessly to make you cry, we imagine this is probably just a metaphor.

In any case, Apple has made a canny move with "The archives", foregrounding emotional impact instead of the product itself. There is certainly no shortage of tear-jerker ad campaigns out there, but those that succeed find a way to move viewers in a novel way. By injecting a touch of magical realism, Apple has certainly done that.

With over four million views since release last week, "The archives" is already a success online and we wouldn’t be surprised if the campaign’s sharp storytelling and gorgeous direction pick up some industry awards at the end of the year.