Perhaps the most effective advertising is that which doesn't seem like advertising at all. If it makes you think, if it makes you reflect on life, if it makes you consider just about anything — except buying the product in question — then it becomes much more powerful.
Nike has done this exceptionally well over the years, reminding athletes and would-be athletes to "Just Do It" — and, perhaps, while they are doing it, to maybe wear Nike gear.
This past weekend, Apple rolled out a pair of new television spots as part of its larger "Your Verse" ad campaign that began earlier this year, looking at how different iPad owners use their devices in their lives or careers. One early spot looked at how the Cleveland Clinic used the iPad to help track concussion symptoms on high school football teams. Another examined how a pair of mountaineers use the iPad to help them scale the world's tallest peaks.
The first piece follows travel blogger Chérie King, a deaf writer, who uses her iPad to help her get her bearings in a new city, to interact with locals in whatever language she needs, to create walking tours, and (of course) to write.
"Long before she set out on her own, King felt that behind every journey was the potential to discover something new about herself and the world. She believes that more and more with every trip. 'I love traveling to different places. You never know who you'll meet, and how that might change you,' she says. 'iPad has allowed me to become a more adventurous and spontaneous traveler. And I'm just getting started.'"
My stepmother is hard of hearing, and luckily has successfully received a pair of cochlear implants that have largely restored her hearing. But growing up with her let me experience firsthand how difficult it is for many people with hearing impairments to go about their daily lives. For a deaf person to feel comfortable traveling all over the world is a testament both to Ms. King and to the tablet that makes her life significantly more enjoyable and productive.
The second piece looks at world-renowned composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, who uses his iPad to catalog his brief moments of inspiration and compose fully orchestrated musical scores. He also created an iPad app to help a new generation of classical music fans appreciate how much goes into creating 40-person orchestral pieces.
Classical music can seem complicated and imposing, especially for a younger generation brought up on overproduced and auto-tuned music. However, there is something incredible about an orchestral piece that brings together the talents of dozens of musicians to create something larger and more spectacular.
Salonen's app, The Orchestra, uses multi-camera and multi-track performances of eight different musical pieces to allow users to explore orchestral music in a way never before possible. Individual instruments can be muted or amplified, showing how all the different parts become a cohesive whole.
"The Orchestra harnesses the power of iPad Air to provide users with an interactive, immersive look at all the elements of an orchestra. 'All of a sudden, what looks kind of odd and distant and maybe a little abstract becomes much more real and normal,' Salonen says. 'I'd be delighted if somebody would discover classical music through The Orchestra.'"
It might just be advertising, Apple trying to sell more iPads, but I hope it reminds all of us that perhaps there is more to life than playing Angry Birds and reading celebrity gossip news. Perhaps we should take the time to try to do something truly extraordinary once in a while.
What about you? Do you think that the iPad is merely a tool, or can be used for something greater? Let us know in the comments.
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.