The biggest surprise of the iPhone 15 event was... Tim Cook's acting?

There were few real surprises at the Apple event on Tuesday since so much had been leaked beforehand. The brand announced iPhone 15, Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. But there was also a continual theme throughout the presentation. More than ever before, Apple was putting a lot of emphasis on its green credentials.

References to reducing environmental impact abounded through the entire presentation, from the replacement of leather with a new signature FineWoven material in Apple Watch straps and iPhone cases to repeat mentions of the aim to achieve a net zero carbon footprint by 2030. But the biggest section on the topic was a short comic film starring Octavia Spencer as Mother Nature, which was perhaps the most entertaining part of the whole event.

The five-minute film shows Mother Nature grilling Apple execs on the progress that Apple has made on its environmental objectives. The writing is witty and the execution is an assured piece of branding and filmmaking turning what could have been a dry Powerpoint (or Keynote) presentation into an entertaining segment that was much more likely to keep people watching. 

Refreshingly, Spencer takes a sceptical view of the brand's promises, suggesting that Apple recognises that it may be accused of greenwashing (although the video itself has been accused of the same thing). While not all brands can call on the calibre of writers that Apple has on hand, introducing this slight vulnerability in such a confident way could set the standard for others to follow.

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Many viewers applauded the video on social media, including McDonald's head of social media Guillaume Huin, who described it as one of the best pieces of brand content he's ever seen and that it will be "a benchmark for many companies moving forward". Others agreed, commending even Cook's acting

"One of the best sustainable marketing stories made," wrote Alvaro Bendrell, who works in digital comms at Enel. "Humanizing the complex jargon around climate action plus adding humor so on-brand. "Companies will try to replicate this but come up short, someone else wrote. "There is a layer of vulnerability here that works VERY well. Tim trusts his teams and his creatives."

However, others said they thought the video was cringey or were sceptical about the sincerity of Apple's message. "Wondering how mother nature feels about mineral extractions. She forgot that question," one person wrote. Apple's film also recalls a very different video of a boardroom scenario released earlier this year by the mobile investing app Fennel based on transcripts from a certain restaurant brand's AGM.

To recap on what happened during the event, see our Apple event blog, which was running live through the presentation. And for the best prices on Apple products, see our roundup of the best Apple deals.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.