Image via Apple
This past weekend saw the debut of Apple's latest TV ad, "Your Verse Anthem," a kind of creative use-case montage set to a Robin Williams voiceover from Dead Poets Society. Specifically, it's his measured delivery of an abridged version of Walt Whitman's "O Me! O Life!":
Now, it's common knowledge that Apple is among the most secretive bastions of tech innovation in all the land. But if we assume that their ad campaigns are a prism for their corporate culture, their latest effort is a telling exercise in PR (I can't help but wonder if the late Steve Jobs would have signed off on it). At best, it's an optimistic paean to the end user; at worst, it's at once contrived and overwrought, a departure from their most memorable ad campaigns. But the fact that it's an appropriation of an appropriation is nothing new, so to speak; between their marketing gurus' well-documented habit of 'creative repurposing' and the broader 'Everything is a remix' hypothesis, it's simply a safe bet on broad inspiration, a kind of updated version of those kitschy cliché posters.
But in fairness to Apple, I don't think it's a stretch to say that Ive & Co. think of the iPad Air as their verse. Considering the catholic breadth of the 'case studies' in the 90-second spot (which did not go unnoticed by Ohio State), the device is a weirdly literal contemporary version of the tabula rasa, the glass interface as much a lens as a blank slate. Just as Robin Williams' well-regarded turn as John Keating illustrates the sentiment of the monologue, so too is the iPad a veritably poetic work of design.
The irony, of course, is the fact that the iPad Air could not possibly have been created on a tablet—nor could Mrs. Doubtfire's acting chops. Here, for good measure, is another Walt—a.k.a. Bryan Cranston—introducing the iPad Air.
I'm still waiting for the FiftyThree 'remix,' in which someone picks up a Pencil instead of the iPad at the end...
Even so, they may never top some of the classics. Here's the 'unreleased' version of "Think Different," c. 1997, with the never-aired Steve Jobs voiceover.
Hat-tip to Rob Walker / Yahoo Tech