When the San Francisco 49ers met the Carolina Panthers in NFL playoff game Sunday, Apple was there. With a brand new ad, its first big broadcast spot touting the new iPad Air.

Dubbed “Your Verse Anthem,” the 1:30 spot is anchored firmly at that intersection of arts and technology that Apple is so fond of and features scenes of people using the iPad air in precisely those circumstances: Analyzing hockey plays, calibrating windmills, choreographing a halftime show, building a Lego robot, shooting video of a waterfall. All of this is set to a voiceover from the film “Dead Poets Society,” a speech arguing that the need for poetry, beauty and love subsumes the need for noble pursuits like business and engineering, which are themselves essential.

Adam Tow

Like many of Apple’s ads, the spot is typically over-reaching, bordering on hyperbolic (recall another iconic Apple advertisement that also debuted during a big football game). But it’s also effective and pretty powerful. It’s hard to look at all these various iPad use cases and not conclude that the iPad and other devices like it are having a transformative effect on our culture. Certainly, that’s the argument Apple is making here.

Here’s an embed of the video and the text from the voiceover. You’ll find the ad itself here and, for now, featured at the top of Apple’s homepage.

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?




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