Tuesday, 22 June 2010


Dear Ether,

I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard of Roland Barthe’s semiotic readings, but here is a short article / analysis of an iPad advertisement in a similar style to his. Enjoy!

The Must-Have Facebook Update:

Apple seems to think they’ve found it. The new iPad is featured in advertisement boasting of its ‘groundbreaking’ Facebook application. In this advertisement the user is reclined on a luxurious looking sofa casually updating, ‘Grab a coffee with me after you’ve finished unpacking?’ This seems an inane enough statement at first glance, so why on Earth have Apple chosen it to guide the hordes to their doors?

Of its significance I’d first seize upon the idea of ‘grabbing a coffee’. Coffee is synonymous with both luxury and convenience, the ultimate statement of metropolitan life, perhaps a reflection of the nature of the iPad; itself heralded to be the ultimate combination of quality and ease of usage. The act of ‘grabbing a coffee’ is also attractive to a large section of potential ‘iPadders’: lovers grab coffees on sunny days, work associates reluctantly huddle over over-sized mugs on rainy days, teenagers with birthdays grab coffees to establish their newly found middle-class identities.
So why choose to specify the task of unpacking? Here unpacking is not simply menial activity resigned to the end of holidays but an implication of travelling; the exotic and horizon broadening nature of globe-trotting. Once again, comparison must be made back to the iPad, not only is the iPad for travellers say Apple, but it is as worthy and multi-faceted as travel itself.

That our user knows this friend has recently been travelling also implies a past dialogue, which when advertising social media is crucial. In fact, not only does this ‘iPadder’ know what his friend has been doing (travelling) and what she is doing (unpacking) but he can also make future plans (coffee)! It’s almost as if they’d held a conversation– which sadly they cannot have done, because the iPad does not function as a telephone.

Also notable is the very deliberate move away from the ‘dialect’ of the internet. There is a marked difference between the rather civilised request to go for coffee (written in standard English) and text-talk’s melange of acronyms and phonic spellings often found on social media: ‘LOL @ mi kat, it iz asleep’.

Whether the advertisement’s update is truly must-have is perhaps questionable. I can’t help thinking more scintillating requests must have been made over Facebook than Apple’s example. What is undeniable however is that Apple’s version is as carefully crafted to its clientele as its product is.

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