When Brantley Gilbert got on his Harley and rode through Middle Tennessee on the backroads, it felt like just another great day to be alive.
But when the footage shot that day was cut into a black-and-white spot for Apple Music by award-winning director Anthony Mandler and debuted on NBC during the pre-telecast for the Brickyard 400, no one expected the reaction the spot would elicit. From C/NET to Fast Company, Mashable to Ad Age, the :60 commercial struck a chord in a world starving for authenticity.
I don’t know about all that,” says the CMA Song of the Year nominee about the Apple spot he narrates and anchors. “When they approached us, I explained it was important that I be true to me. My albums are all chapters of my life. It’s important to be true to your word and who you are; I said, ‘If we can do that, then let’s do this.’ And we went out and had a great time, met some cool people. That folks are reacting like that, well, come on out to the country and see us!”
For man currently scaling the charts with “The Ones That Like Me,” the news that Apple was releasing an expanded two minute version of their spot made him smile. More freestyling, more open road, more camaraderie, the longer piece lingers on the moment as Gilbert says, “the way people do when they’re really with each other, and enjoying each other’s company.”
Debuted on Variety.com, the long-form commercial feels more like A Day in the Life of the hard-rocking country star…
As heartland-y as you can get. The visuals — an American flag draped on the side of a weathered barn waving in the wind, Gilbert and his biker buddies rumbling over a railroad crossing, a motorcycle carving circles in the dirt — underscore the gritty Americana feel.” Mashable concurred, “The Apple Music ad stars singer Brantley Gilbert waxing poetic about open roads and small-town life as motorcycles tear up farm fields and diner patrons smile at one another. It looks more like a spot for Harley-Davidson than a tech company known for its pretentious marketing,” Ad Age wrote.
Rolling Stone has cited Gilbert’s hard country as “the soundtrack to Friday night in small towns everywhere.” With his The Devil Don’t Sleep Tour…with Tyler Farr and Black Stone Cherry…rolling into Cleveland, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh this weekend, he’s packing the heartland out this summer.
With hits like “One Hell of an Amen,” “Country Must Be Country Wide,” “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” and “Bottoms Up,” the Georgia-born, raised and based songwriter is now celebrated by longform doc commercial directed by a man who’s worked with Jay-Z, Rihanna, Eminem, the Killers, Mary J. Blige, Lana Del Ray, Snoop Dogg and Drake. Mandler’s spot truly celebrates the small town ethos that forged his songwriting and the spark he finds on the road. As he says, “Music is music, people are people. It’s pretty simple, really. Like me.”