Content vs. Great Content: Apple iPad Air

In our first edition of Content vs. Great Content, we looked at the words of Seth Godin as he challenges us to take the risk of saying something meaningful, something unexpected.

Then, a couple weeks ago I wrote about the importance of developing content that has a human element to it:

The kind of story [your content] needs to be telling is one that digs through the noise of our culture and touches on something foundational about our shared experiences as humans.

One of the best examples of this that I’ve seen in 2014 is Apple’s commercial for the iPad Air. It’s no secret that Apple has long been one of the best when it comes to crafting great content. But you may or may not have noticed that they’ve made an intentional shift over the last year or two from their super-minimalist stylings to ads that are rich, vibrant, and colorful.

Take a look:

There are so many elements that are working together here. Of course, it starts with Robin Williams’s irreplicable voice and talent, but that is only one cog in the machine.

There are the words (from Tom Schulman’s screenplay for Dead Poet’s Society, who was in turn using a few lines of Walt Whitman’s), the vitality of various spheres of life shown in the video shots, and lastly the music, slowly building, pregnant with a sense of expectation.

All four of the media used here (drama, words, images, music) contain the human element that I spoke of earlier. Blended together, they create Great Content, a sum greater than the parts.

And Apple didn’t just stop with that 90-second commercial. They created multiple versions of it, including shorter spin-offs of the same idea to fit into the standard 30-second TV slot. They also combined it with their web presence, as their website has feature stories on many of the individuals shown in the commercial, giving further insight into how they are using their iPad to add their verse to the human story. All of this goes to show that if you create one great piece of content, there is no shortage of ways to re-use and re-purpose it.

For those of us who develop, create, or strategize about content, the challenge has been made:

The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?