Shawn Lim
Jan 29, 2024

Empowering China's Gen Z: Apple's new CNY film takes on the touchy topic of insecurities

WATCH: Shot entirely on iPhone 15 Pro Max, the 15-minute film by Apple and TBWA Media Arts Lab Shanghai addresses China's increasing pressures on Gen Z and encourages them to embrace confidence in themselves.

Apple's latest Chinese New Year campaign, a tradition now in its seventh consecutive year, presents an evocative film shot solely using the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The narrative titled ‘Little Garlic’ is directed by the acclaimed Marc Webb and features a stellar cast, including Chinese star Fan Wei. The 15-minute film, created by TBWA Media Arts Lab Shanghai delves into the universal theme of overcoming insecurity, particularly resonating with Gen Z in China.

The film is centred around a young girl’s relationship with her grandfather. The girl, who has shapeshifting abilities, changes her appearance constantly after getting bullied by her schoolmates, even as her grandfather warns that it might harm her. She eventually stops, after her grandfather convinces her to be herself.

As she gets older and leaves in search of work in Shanghai, multiple setbacks cause her to lose confidence in her abilities and looks. She starts shapeshifting again into different personalities to gain attention and love, before realising she has lost her original look after going too far.

The campaign underscores Apple's commitment to cultural relevance and technological prowess, showcasing the iPhone's advanced features, such as five-times optical zoom, Action mode, and Cinematic mode.

Studies have shown that life for China's Gen Z is fraught with various pressures, from intense workplace environments to family responsibilities and personal ambitions. The legacy of the one-child policy amplifies expectations from both society and kin.

Despite the allure of lucrative tech sector jobs, young adults anticipate the demanding work culture that awaits them. They are caught in a cycle of striving for success in a competitive society without a clear vision of their ultimate goals. Many harbour entrepreneurial ambitions, yet often lack the requisite skills and entrepreneurial acumen.

This understanding of China’s Gen Z has been utilised to craft a visually stunning and emotionally impactful story, which Apple hopes will resonate globally, transcending the boundaries of China.

A behind-the-scenes video complements the main film, offering insights into the creative process and demonstrating the iPhone's capabilities in the hands of both established and emerging filmmakers.

The campaign will be disseminated across broadcast, digital, and social media platforms, aiming to connect with audiences through innovative technology and heartfelt storytelling.

Apple's 2023 CNY film ‘Through the Five Passes’ can be seen here.


Agency: TBWA Media Arts Lab Shanghai 
Production: Radical US, M Production Shanghai
Director: Marc Webb
Screenwriter: Pan Yiran
Art Director: Li Anran
Director of Photography: Cecile Zhang
Music: Varqa Buehrer

Campaign Asia

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