July 23, 2012: Looking for the perfect spokesman for its new virtual assistant Siri, Apple turns to Martin Scorsese, the legendary filmmaker behind some of Hollywood’s most violent gangster movies.
The new television commercial shows the director using Siri voice commands to juggle his busy schedule. One in a string of celebrity-studded Siri ads, it ranks among the best.
Martin Scorsese’s Apple ad inflates Siri’s skills
Previous celebrity-filled ads for Siri featured the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and John Malkovich. (An infamous one showed Zooey Deschanel peering out her window during a downpour, then asking Siri whether it was raining.)
In the Scorsese ad, the filmmaker uses Siri to check his calendar for the day. He engages in a bit of banter, moves his schedule around, looks up a friend named Rick, and gets real-time traffic reports.
“I like you, Siri,” Scorsese says at the end of the ad. “You’re going places.”
Bryan Buckley, who directed the Scorsese spot, went on to helm the brilliant Siri ad starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. (Apple coincidentally released that one on July 23 several years later.)
While fun to watch, the Scorsese ad overinflated Siri’s abilities. Many users noted this type of stretch during Siri’s first year, when the functionality Apple described did not jibe with reality. Critics singled out real-time traffic updates as something Siri definitely could not do, although rumors predicted the feature would arrive in the next iteration of iOS.
Watch the Scorsese ad yourself to see how well it compares to Siri’s current capabilities:
Apple goes Hollywood
Over the years, Apple has enjoyed relationships with some of the top filmmakers in Hollywood. In the 1990s, director Spike Lee appeared in an Apple commercial. Behind the camera, Apple has employed the likes of Spike Jonze, David Fincher and Errol Morris.
Today, directors like Steven Soderbergh increasingly use the iPhone to shoot their films. And of course, Cupertino’s Hollywood ties began to seriously ramp up with the launch of Apple TV+ in 2019. And Scorsese is coming full circle, with his upcoming epic Killers of the Flower Moon coming to Apple TV+ this fall.
Siri, on the other hand, still lags behind rivals like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Apple added new Siri voices in iOS 14.5, and continues to make the virtual assistant sound more human. However, the fluid conversation Scorsese has with his phone in this ad still isn’t possible, given Siri’s current state.
Do you remember the first wave of Siri commercials for the iPhone 4s? Were you impressed by Siri when you first used it? Let us know in the comments below.