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Maya Angelou Illuminates the Human Family in Apple's Beautiful Rio Olympics Spot


Building on Apple's "Shot on iPhone" campaign, TBWA\Media Arts Lab gives us "The Human Family," a new spot with Maya Angelou narrating her poem "The Human Family." 

The structure is simple, and reminiscent of a wedding montage (if only the latter were this short!). Against a white background, photos and videos of different faces and families—of all colors, sizes, ages and orientations—flicker by, with the credit of each iPhone photographer underneath.

As they move past us and into oblivion, like the firefly residue of memory, the late Maya Angelou reads her poem "The Human Family" in the background. 

The spot is slated to air Friday during the Opening Ceremonies of the Rio Olympics. It's already gone live across Apple's social media channels and on the website, where a full subsite is devoted to the "Shot on iPhone" campaign.

The Olympics is a time when we commonly celebrate both differences and unity, and the ad elegantly walks the line between both. The triumph of "The Human Family"—both the ad and the poem—is the warm embrace of the qualities that make us unique (and beloved) in the eyes of those who love us. It's that universal desire to love and connect that produces commonalities that are more important than the differences. 

This is a pretty nice message in a climate currently obsessed with stoking our differences to the point of explosion. As analyst Jan Dawson pointed out on Twitter,"Apple's Olympics ad is a nice antidote to all that's going on in the world (and the US in particular) at the moment."

The full text of Dr. Maya Angelou's poem appears below. The ad doesn't use all of it, probably for time and clarity, but it isn't a disservice. You can also listen to Dr. Angelou reading it, unadorned by marketing music, on Scientific American.

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

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