Apple’s Gorgeously Detailed Holiday Ad Has a Moral That All Creatives Should Take to Heart

'Share Your Gifts' is a lush animation with a lesson

Headshot of David Griner

Lovingly, meticulously crafted through a combination of detailed miniatures and digital animation, Apple’s “Share Your Gifts” is the tech brand’s most ambitious holiday ad to date—and one that only gets more impressive with each subsequent viewing.

The nearly 3-minute spot has the atmosphere of a fairy tale but is firmly rooted in modern culture, showing a young creative soul named Sofia who spends her free time at her MacBook, working away at…something.

Like many (OK, all) creatives, she’s reluctant to share what she’s making, but it’s clearly a project that absorbs her thoughts every minute she’s not working at a bakery or loving on her dog.

Will we discover what she’s been creating? Will it be worth all the buildup? Luckily, this is a story that’s more about the lesson than the big reveal.

Developed by Apple’s bespoke creative agency, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, and animation house Buck Design, “Share Your Gifts” has quite a bit of DNA in common with Apple’s previous holiday ads, including the much-admired “Misunderstood” spot from 2013, which put the brand on the map of A-list Christmas-season advertisers alongside British brands like John Lewis and Sainsbury’s.

But while “Misunderstood” was the story of someone creating in apparent isolation and ultimately surprising his loved ones with a heartwarming video, “Share Your Gifts” is less direct. Instead, we don’t learn what Sofia was making—but we do learn the lesson that sharing your creations, while sometimes terrifying, is vital.

Among the many visual Easter eggs hidden throughout the spot, there’s also an audio surprise you wouldn’t be able to guess just from listening: Like the fictional star of the ad, the musician behind the commercial’s song is a young artist who began by writing pieces on her Mac.

Billie Eilish, a 16-year-old American singer, recorded the track “Come Out in Play” specifically for the ad. Eilish, who began writing songs at 11 and was signed by Interscope at 14, recorded the spot’s song in her parent’s home with the help of her producing partner and sibling, Finneas O’Connell.

While you’re sure to catch more details each time you watch the ad, you certainly shouldn’t miss the behind-the-scenes video below, which highlights the staggering amount of set design, miniature work and multi-step animation that went into “Share Your Gifts.”

According to the ad’s creators, research has shown that 7 out of 10 people feel they’re not creative or not living up to their creative potential. Will this ad help liberate more creatives from their own self-doubts and fears? Perhaps, but if nothing else, it will at least remind the viewers that creating without sharing is like buying a wonderful present—and then locking it away. 

Here’s a look back at Apple’s holiday ads from recent years, beginning with 2013’s “Misunderstood”:

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."