“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.
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.
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.