New iPad Air television ad 'Your Verse Anthem' tugs on the heartstrings

New iPad Air television ad 'Your Verse Anthem' tugs on the heartstrings

Summary: Apple's advertising agency is using a passage from a popular 1989 movie to promote the iPad Air in a new commercial. But does it work?

TOPICS: Apple, iPad

Apple has posted a new television commercial for the iPad Air called "The Verse Anthem" that quotes the 1989 film Dead Poets Society. A description of the ad reads: 

We're humbled and inspired by what people do with iPad. So we set out to capture some of their stories. What will your verse be?

The 90-second spot is a collection of video clips of the iPad being used in exotic and remote locations, from deep sea diving to mountain climbing and the cinematography is breathtaking. Take a look:

In it a narrator reads an inspiration piece of dialog from Dead Poets Society where John Keating (played by Robin Williams) says to his students:

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? 

Here's a video clip of the scene from the movie:

The ad's tone harkens back to Apple's second most famous television ad "Here's to the crazy ones" from its 1997 Think Different campaign.

A companion website ( goes into more detail on the various creative scenarios in which iPads can be used. Apple's newest television ad is an extension of its Life on iPad campaign which, instead of focusing on features or specifications (like Microsoft's Surface ads), takes an emotional approach, tugging on the heartstrings and evoking a personal connection to the iPad.

It's a common practice for a market leader to evoke emotion ("poetry, beauty, romance, love") and focus on brand-building in its advertising and avoid mentioning the competition by name. Less successful products (like Surface) often reference the market leader by name and draw comparisons to how they are better, cheaper, etc. in an attempt to take marketshare from the leader. This has been done for decades in advertising by leading brands such as Tide, McDonald's, Gilette and Duracell. Coca Cola is a classic example of emotional brand brand building. Its ads focus on evokative messages like "Buy the world a Coke," while second place products (like Pepsi) will do draw direct comparisons to Coke with "The Pepsi Challenge."

While the success of Apple new campaign will be difficult to measure, it's sure to resonate with viewers impressed by the iPad's deep catalog of apps (live music performance, movie and video production, learning), accessories (underwater housings, microphone and lens mounts) and the breathtaking cinematography featured in the new spot. More technically savvy users, jaded IT pros focused on features (the "bullets on the box"), and more price-sensitive consumers aren't as likely to be swayed. 

What did you think of Apple's new iPad ad?

Topics: Apple, iPad

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  • thought it was a mess

    and one of the longest 90 seconds i've experienced.
    the video was disjointed, the audio hard to hear at times, there seemed to be no connection between words and video and there was nothing particularly ipad about it.
    Worse, it encourages using ipad as a camera.
    • What will your verse be?

      I disagree, it was very iPad!

      People thinking out of the square, dare I say, even differently. If you limit yourself to the boundaries set by the consumption device only nay sayers, you will get average. If you allow yourself to explore, to be different - you might jus pick up on the flowing threads layered throughout the 90 seconds, enjoy.
      • Nah

        Disclaimer, I am a Windows fan more than Apple (although I am typing this on my iMac).

        It was a mess, pretentious even. My own company kinda does the same marketing in that we are design oriented business but some of our products remind me of Apple; style over substance. Now the thing is, this works for us and it works for Apple to the tune of billions.

        In other words, just because I hated the ad, does not make it a bad ad, it just make the people who are positively affected by the ad ridiculous.
        Rann Xeroxx
        • iMac using Windows fan...

          Why would you, as a response to a beautifully produced ad, head and shoulders above most ads, want to label as "ridiculous" people you have never met and do not know, such as me, who were positively affected? It is sad that someone would feel a need to do this.
          Robert Meppelink
  • I wrote the first part of this quote for "Roy Hunt"

    Hi, I supplied most of the unattributed poetry for Dead Poets Society, and wrote the quote before "Oh me" for the flickershow and via that, for humanity. For my poems and little musical ditty services I received $1 and some micro cassette tapes (to replace the one I used to record the saxophone cave solo. I transmitted that little solo to the worthy cast on the Bundy flute given to me by a little girl upon hearing me play it--I guess it had been a long long time since I'd played, back in college in fact, and as I was broke, well my hunger to play after so many years seeking answers in science had me answer the "Flute for Sale" ad with no hope of more than a moment's play; I accepted as her mother asked her if she was really sure? "You are sure you want to just give your flute away?" She was, bless her little generous heart to this day. So thanks little nameless girl from the 1980's, you were the little princess who helped me help Miramax make their movie to impress so many people that good Apple would use my words and those the playwright added to help everyone understand more than just products or technology: our intrinsic human worth which we all every one of us shares. I eventually fixed that old Bundy up and gave it to my niece, where it languished, replaced by a Haynes that languishes still. Alas.) So thanks, Apple for a trip down memory lane, thank-you Robin Williams for your heartfelt rendition and thank you "Roy Hunt" whoever and wherever you are.
    Ross Nicholson
  • The Very Essence of What Makes Apple Different

    Say what you may about how Apple products are over-priced, under-featured and intended for the wealthy elite, there is no denying that Apple gets the concepts of elegance, design, ease of use and exceptional user experience in a way and to a degree that leaves the rest of the industry building cheap products for the great unwashed...
    • I agree

      This issue of Apple being over-priced is nonsense. Recently, a tech site wrote an article on the cost of the Mac Pro. Their conclusion is that an equally spec'ed PC would be $2,000 more expensive and still would not have Thunderbolt.

      That said, I do not believe in a Communist tech world where everyone only gets the same lowest-common-denominator tech. :-)
      • a $4,000 dollar laptop?

        So... I'm going to have to ask: Source? Because... yah... not buying that for an instant.

        Just compared similar items (Which isn't possible...) and got the following for about 45 more than the Mac (and got a much more powerful PC).

        17" LCD FHD LED LCD panel
        2x480gb SSD RAID 0 Corsair Neutron HDD
        Blu-Ray Reader/DVD-Burner (I'd put specs.... but Apple seems to have forgone this feature entirely...)
        16GB 1600MHz (GSkill memory)
        nVidia Geforce GTX 770M 3GB dedicated memory
        Intel i7 4900MQ (2.8Ghz, 3.80Ghz turbo)

        So yes, you're right you don't get Thunderbolt, but you do get a faster CPU (I'd tell you the exact model but Apple only says "2.6ghz - 3.8ghz" so... yeah...) a much better GPU (The Apple MacBook is a GTX 750m 2GB of memory... that model number isn't 1 step down, it's 3 steps down from the 770m, the in-betweens being the 765m and the 675mx and 675m... then there's the 750m)

        Additionally the harddrive(s) - the Apple one only states: "512GB Flash Memory" - I assume they might be using an intel? I don't know for sure... but the kind of SSD you put in your rig matters... the two I have are pretty much top of the line, and I even had some room in the budget to throw in a second one and strip them in RAID0, so they are going to smoke any 512SSD apple could hope to put in there.

        On top of that factor in that for $45 more you get to swap out anything you want as new stuff comes out... yes even the graphics card in this laptop is upgradeable (user upgradable) as it's an MXMIII format. 2x HDD bays, an ODD bay, and it also has 2xminiPCIe slots if you felt like throwing in MiniPCIe harddrives into it to add more speed/space.

        So whatever data that source used it's likely either: Not the equivalent features-wise or completely wrong.
        • correction

          My apologies... that laptop DOES have thunderbolt.
        • you're mistaken

          the original poster said "Mac Pro" (desktop) not Macbook Pro (laptop). And he is correct the Mac Pro is cheaper and can do more compared to a custom built PC with similar specs. I'm a windows PC person and won't deny the that, plus you won't have to worry about drivers and other windows problems that come up.
          Patrick Van
        • Um, what are you talking about?

          The Mac Pro isn't even a laptop?
      • Depends...

        The MBA is prices competitively with regards to ultrabooks. Like you said, the Mac Pro has a LOT of high-end components and licensed tech in it. The margins on either product are rather low for Apple and this is reflected in that some have wondered for years if Apple will just get out of the PC market as its such a small business for them. Most think they keep it to generate good will and keep the Mac stores relevant.

        Now compare this to the iPhone, the iPad, heck even the iPod. All these products have at least 30% profit margins if not more. With the high quality of lower cost devices now available, the only thing you are getting with your hard earned money for that 30% is name brand.

        Don't get me wrong, we are a frivolous people will spend 3x as much for a shirt because it has a Polo logo on it. Apple products are falling into that class. Good for Apple and even good for the customers if it makes them feel good about their products.
        Rann Xeroxx
  • The iPad is now a productivity device?

    So Apple is trying to push the iPad as a productivity device? Could it be that Surface (you know, the productivity oriented tablet) is impacting sales?

    In the above, you can see that Surface is doing well against the iPad at Best Buy. Plus in the article you are taken to by the following link, an analyst believes MS may have sold as many as 7.5 million Surfaces in the last quarter.

    Before Tim Cook scoffed at the idea of using tablets for productivity, now he is trying to sell the iPad as a productivity device. I think Surface is making him nervous.
    P. Douglas
    • Surface is no threat. Android is.

      A much bigger threat.

      Surface only has one manufacturer.

      Android has many...
      • Android - they name is Legion...

        ...and just like that biblical reference, the future is a plague of fragmentation, vendor/carrier bloat, inconsistent-to-non-exsistent support, etcetera, etcetera.

        You uber-FOSS types crack me up with your delusions of "free" and "freedom".
    • Your iPad productivity myth (version 2) is really off base.

      When the iPad first came out, everyone BUT Apple or it's fans were referring to it as a toy not suited for "necessary" productivity projects.

      When that myth was destroyed, myth (version 2) apparently has been created that alleges Apple executes always intended the iPad to be a toy but .. hey, guess what, it isn't so now those poor execs (Tim Cook, for example) have to back track and say that the iPad needs to be competitive to the Surface line of tablets because Surface tablets are THE BEST tablet option for productivity applications.

      Ok .. Your right, Mr. Douglas. You win. Happy now.
    • The original iPad was introduced with an optional keyboard.

      The Surface is not even on the radar. Jobs introduced the original iPad with an optional keyboard for those that felt they needed to do more typing on such a device = productivity.

      Besides, productivity is not boxed into one category (keyboard on a desk). A scientist, doctor, dentists, pilot, stock broker, car sales person, retail staff, real estate agent walking around with his/her iPad in hand are all being productive with the device. Not using it as a toy lol.
    • The Surface isn't particularly productivity oriented

      The Surface Pro is.

      The Surface's only particular claim to fame is its ability to run Office, which is often wrongly conflated with productivity (a different thing for different people.)

      Other than that, it is notable for having a slower non-webkit browser than other tablets, and far fewer apps than other tablets, including the Surface pro - not a significantly remarkable state of productivity.
      • Surface 2/RT

        Not sure if you have ever used a RT based device for a significant amount of time in a productive way but Office is far from the only reason its the most productive mobile OS outside of full Windows...

        * Multiple open windows in "snap panes", true multitasking (like Android and Samsung Note)
        * Full USB port with support tens of thousands of devices such as DVD burners and high end USB headsets, etc.
        * Mouse ability (like Android) mostly needed for legacy remoting use
        * Full File Explorer with network share mapping
        * Full printer ability with drivers for most printers
        * Network printer connections
        * Customization of the registry, local security policy, etc
        * Multiple user profiles. Each can be granted very granular access to certain resources and services
        * You can turn on Server services and create network shares of the tablet's file system
        * File History is a network and local sync app
        * Backing up the image on USB drive of the devices to restore later
        * Desktop IE allows extensions, plug-ins, and filters along with very granular custom settings
        * Works with MS products and services such as RemoteApp, RemoteFX, DirectAccess, Group File and various SharePoint services
        * IE11 is a full browser supporting both Java and Flash and can render almost all web pages correctly such as corporate web applications
        * ODBC connections to network databases
        * Etc. (I could go on and on)

        And on top of that it has Office with Outlook, the most productive collaboration client created. OneNote is the best in class organisational note taking app.
        Rann Xeroxx
        • A mouse for a tablet? Seriously?

          Here are stuff I don't think people would need on a device that's meant to be carried around by the user:

          * Full USB port with support tens of thousands of devices such as DVD burners and high end USB headsets, etc.
          * Mouse ability (like Android) mostly needed for legacy remoting use
          * Full File Explorer with network share mapping
          * Customization of the registry, local security policy, etc
          * Backing up the image on USB drive of the devices to restore later
          * Browser extensions, plug-ins, and filters along with very granular custom settings
          * MS products and services such as RemoteApp, RemoteFX, DirectAccess, Group File and various SharePoint services
          * A full browser supporting Java and Flash
          * ODBC connections to network databases

          A tablet is meant to be used as a easy to use media-consumption device with capability to do some editing on photos, videos, and documents on the go. All of the above I would never do on a tablet. My computer handles those a hundred times better. But then, the RT is just a less powerful laptop that can't sit on your lap. Let's facet: it doesn't do the task of either a laptop or a tablet very well. I'm not saying the iPad is a perfect device but there are some things I would rather not have to keep things simple and elegant.