Designed In California--people look away from one another, toward the screen.

Your Verse--people look away the screen toward one another.

Designed In California--guy looks away from life, toward the screen.

Your Verse--woman looks away from screen, toward life.

Your Verse--glancing toward the summit.

Co.Design

Apple’s New Ad Finally Recognizes That iPads Are Less Important Than Life

Apple is changing its messaging in an important way.

"The powerful play goes on, and you can contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

These are the closing words of Apple’s latest "Your Verse" iPad Air commercial, the words of Walt Whitman, paraphrased by Robin Williams, set to the backdrop of what may be the grandest vistas (mountains, waterfalls, and massive storms) of any Apple ad in history.

Look beyond the spectacular environmental photography, and you’ll notice how Apple is subtly, almost subconsciously changing their messaging to no longer claim that their products are more important than the world around you. Their trick? People look away from their iPads and toward life.

To see the difference, take a look at Apple’s "Designed In California" ad from last year. In it, we see a montage in which people actively turn away from life to engage with their technology. At one point, two people actually kiss, then turn away from one another to laugh into their iPhone screen. It's not a completely unlikely scenario, but it can still give you shivers.

Designed In California

Following "Designed In California," Apple’s next ad "Misunderstood" was stubbornly defiant to a growing culture that saw the value of unplugging. It showed a teenage boy on his phone for all of his winter break, until, at the end, it was revealed that he hadn’t been turning away from his loved ones, but capturing them in a home video that brought his entire family to tears on Christmas morning.

Now, in the latest iPad Air commercial, Apple’s marketing department has returned to what's really important. Whereas "Designed In California" featured a montage of people looking away from life to engage with screens, "Your Verse" features people starting at the screen, and turning toward the world around them.

Your Verse

It’s the direct opposite of "Designed In California." Maybe Apple is conceding that its products are not ultimately "what matters" (their words!) and that the company plays a role a half a peg down in our priorities, where gadgets can enhance life rather than replace it.

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7 Comments

  • Simon Cohen

    This whole taking-Apple-down-a-peg over their marketing is completely disingenuous. Mark Wilson, I'll bet I'd be safe in assuming you own at least one of their products, and probably more than one. If you don't you're in the minority (certainly as it relates to the readership of this site). I suspect it's also a safe bet that you engage in at least some if not all of the behaviours that Apple has shown in their commercials - yes, even if you're doing with non-Apple products. I know I have.

    I feel zero shame in having done so, and I feel zero irritation at Apple for highlighting this use of their products. The latest ad might feel to you to be some kind of weird acknowledgement that the previous spots put the emphasis on the wrong part of "life" but to my eye, it feels completely harmonious with the overall message that their products allow you to interact with the world in completely new and creative ways.

  • Kevin Dethlefs

    Maybe it's subconsciously being done because they didn't consciously make the decisions to make their technology to interrupt life. People see what they want to see and now that the man of Apple is dead, they start realizing they were worshiping Steve Jobs as a god, rather than a CEO. Seriously... I'm surprised they didn't pass a donation tray around the cult gatherings at the Apple stores...

  • Hmm. Call me cynical but I think Apple's marketing just evolved to pacify some of the discussions on ways technology interferes with real life. This ad does a great job at showing how wonderful the world is, but shows you how you can capture/analyze/share etc your experiences instantaneously with their products. It's still an advertisement, and a ploy to make you buy their products. It's like saying a perfume commercial that induces passionate and romantic feelings is reminding people of the shivers you get with intimacy, but really, they're just telling you that you will experience beautiful love if you have their perfume on you when you go out.

  • You know, when the couple takes a photo together, they're looking at an image.... of themselves! They're not gazing lovingly at Jonny Ive's Industrial Design chops.

    "enhance life rather than replace it" Nice strawman there. Now you're just projecting.

  • I think this ad is part of a specific iPad campaign to show that iPad is more than just a consumption device. To show that people can be creative and productive with iPad. That you don't need Office to do real work.

  • I agree with this. What will you do with your iPad seems like the message. I like the thought behind the post. Not sure I agree with Apple thinking that way though. Great commercial. When you put it together with the other two mentioned (really liked the Christmas one) I think it's more a continuation of how important the iPad should be viewpoint.