The first time I saw “Dead Poets Society,” I was a plucky 14-year-old freshman in high school. My English teacher wheeled out the grainy 28-inch television and pushed in the VHS copy of the 1989 Robin Williams film, and I was completely enraptured. The roots of my passion for writing took a deeper, more fierce hold in the classroom scene when Williams delivered the spellbinding monologue from Walt Whitman:

“Oh me, Oh life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, oh me, oh 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?

In my memory palaces, I see that small colored television set and hear those haunting words from Williams when I trace my decision to be a professional writer.


Now, imagine my surprise when I was watching “How I Met Your Mother” and heard that signature voice Williams possesses, accompanied by beautiful, moving imagery of children discovering new things, adventurers trekking snowy slopes, and spectacular underwater scenes and a small, white Apple logo. This is the newest iPad Air campaign.

In the same way that the film first sparked a fire in my soul, Apple seeks to light the flame of ambition to contribute something meaningful to society. Capitalizing on the last line, which Williams repeats and then postulates what the listener’s “verse” will be, Apple implies that a consumer will benefit in some way from the iPad and can, in turn, change the world.


The words of Whitman stir something primal and human from deep within. The weight of our fleeting existence grows heavier as our lives grow longer, and we become desperate for a possibility of immortality. Doing, creating, changing something in such an impactful way that your name and ideas are forever woven into the folds of history.


That Apple is able to conjure up such a feeling in a person through a simple 90 second commercial is a very rare, very gifted marketing campaign. Even if you had not been familiar with the monologue prior to seeing the ad, the context and delivery of the words are still relevant and equally powerful.


In those 90 seconds, Apple is not selling consumers an iPad. Apple is commercializing the human spirit.


What do you think of Apple’s new campaign for the iPad Air? Do you identify with the feeling they are selling? Does this commercial make you want to buy an iPad? Let’s talk marketing strategies here in the comments section below, or you can always find me on Twitter @TiffaniJPurdy.