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

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?

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?