Apple's New iPad Air commercial, "Your Verse Anthem," makes much of poetry, quoting the great Walt Whitman's "O Me! O Life!" As Fast Company notes, the speech that opens the commercial and continues with Whitman's poem comes from the 1990 movie Dead Poet's Society. The character John Keating (played by Robin Williams) says the following:
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:This beautifully done, 90-second commercial makes me curious about the person at Apple's ad agency who developed it. Is that person a poet? Poets have sometimes ventured into the ad business. Jane Friedman, for instance, mentions in the Whidbey MFA Panel podcast (audio) at Author MBA that poet Todd Boss of MotionPoems.com wrote ad copy for a while.
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring, / Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish, / Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) / Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d, / Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me, / Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined, / The question, O me! so sad, recurring—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.
One thing I'm sure of is that Apple did not broadcast this ad to suck up to poets. Poets are a very small demographic and the genre itself is not as highly esteemed in popular culture as it once was.
Forbes Magazine also discusses the "Your Verse Antehm" commercial and its use of the movie. In addition, it points out that in ten days the Macintosh computer will be thirty years old. The writer connects the iPad Air ad to the iconic 1984 ad that introduced the Macintosh. You know, it's the one with the Big Brother figure on a screen speaking to the gray masses. The commercial ends with "And you'll see why 1984 will not be like 1984." The writer asserts that Apple's strategy is to remind consumers that when you purchase an Apple product you're not merely purchasing machinery; "you're buying an experience."
Lagniappe: I've posted video of the William's delivery of the speech in the Dead Poet's Society below.