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Ohio State Marching Band steps into iPad commercial fame

The OSU Marching Band plays at a football game against Buffalo. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

The OSU Marching Band plays at a football game against Buffalo.
Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

The Ohio State Marching Band has exited the field of Ohio Stadium for the winter, but hasn’t left the spotlight.

A commercial released Sunday by California-based tech company Apple features the Marching Band in rehearsal.

“We’re really very happy we were selected by Apple,” director of the Marching Band Jonathan Waters said. ”We’re not endorsing a specific company or specific product … but the iPad has helped the Marching Band do what we do.”

Some band members said it doesn’t feel like reality to be in an Apple commercial.

“It’s pretty surreal,” said Zachary Naughton, a fourth-year in electrical engineering and a sousaphone player in the band, about being in the advertisement.

The commercial for Apple’s iPad Air features the Marching Band as part of a montage of people and groups using iPads for a variety of activities. The narration comes from Robin Williams in the 1989 film “Dead Poets Society,” and includes lines from Walt Whitman’s poem “O Me! O Life!”

“Our name associated with Apple is really special,” Naughton said.

There are a lot of similarities between Apple and the Marching Band that make the collaboration make sense, said Ryan Barta, a fourth-year in business and trumpet player.

He said both organizations take pride in their “high quality, simplicity, creativity and precision.”

“I was waiting a long time for the moment to air,” Barta said.

Christopher Hoch, associate director of the Marching Band, said he, too, thinks the advertisement was an exciting opportunity.

“It’s pretty cool seeing the band on a national, professionally made commercial,” Hoch said in an email.

Since posted on Apple’s YouTube page, the video had amassed more than 560,000 views as of Monday night.

Earlier, videos of the band’s halftime shows from the 2013 season have received as many as 9.5 million views, according to BuckeyeTV’s YouTube page as of Monday evening, while other various YouTube accounts’ videos have attracted nearly 15 million views.

“I don’t feel any different than I normally do,” Hoch said of the publicity. “The students are getting the recognition they deserve for all of their hard work, and it has been an absolute privilege to work with them and with this band staff.

“The band is bigger than any one of us, and it is the band that is the real ‘celebrity,’ not any individual staff member or person,” Hoch said.

The 2013 season was the first in which the band used iPads, Hoch said. The iPads were used by the band’s directors, student staff and squad leaders.

The band purchased 45 iPads for the 2013 season, with a projected cost of $25,000 that was funded by OSU’s sustainability office, Waters said.

The reception to using the iPads was “tremendously positive,” Hoch said, but it took some students time to warm up to the change.

When the idea for the implementation of iPads was presented, Naughton said he was against it.

A season later, however, Naughton called the use of iPads “the future of marching band.”

“The plan is to have all band students using them next year,” Hoch said.

The ability of every member to have an iPad will be made possible by a $25,000 donation from a private donor, Barta said.

He said he is confident the band could still have produced shows of the same caliber without using iPads, however.

“The shows aren’t a result of the iPads,” Barta said. “It’s just a little bit easier now. It’s a different way of doing what we’ve always done.”

Waters agreed.

“The iPads are not marching and playing the shows,” Waters said. “It still comes down to the students.”

The commercial, filmed in November 2013, required “everyone involved” with the band to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Apple, Naughton said.

Band members appearing in the commercial were also required to temporarily join the Screen Actors Guild for legal reasons, Naughton said, though he said he couldn’t discuss costs because of a nondisclosure agreement.

Hoch said no other companies have approached the band about appearing in commercials.


  1. You guys rock. What a band. I am the NJ FAN who corresponds with Coach Greg Gillum. I always watch the games, but of course not all the stations show you the halftime show.
    It’s just phenomenal. Next year you will be at our football field.
    Keep up the great work.

    Adrienne Maltese
    NJ FAN

  2. The best band in the land indeed. Hard work and dedication pays off. You guys are great, keep up the good work.

  3. Awesome recognition for TBDBITL!

  4. If you think Buckeye fans are plain crazy abt their teams, which they are. They are equal in the love of the Band. They are "THE PRIDE OF THE BUCKEYES" !!!! As Coach Woody Hayes one day proclaimed them, that's " THE BEST DAMN BAND IN THE LAND " !!!! and if Woody said it, It made it in stone. This is one thing of a broadcast of a football game that is missing, and it should NOT BE. It use to be a main feature, Now we have to listen to the same stuff over and over before the game, during the game, and after the game. How boaring is that ? Ask any BUCKEYES fan, see what they will tell you. GO BUCKS ! OH-IO

  5. Joanne Buchar Kitchen

    In 1958 I chose to attend The Ohio State University because my math teacher, Gene Pillot, who was in the band when he attended OSU, said they had the best band and that was enough for me. I didn’t even play an instrument. 55 years later I still remember why I chose OSU and I never regretted my choice. Two OSU degrees later I take great pride in saying the band is still the Best Damn Band in the Land.

  6. When I attended during the Woody Era, it was then the TBDBITL … the legacy lives on!

  7. As an Alum, nothing compares to TBDBITL and Everyone Knows It. Many people will criticize Our Athletic Teams (strength,competitiveness,accolades) and many times it is true, but I have NEVER heard anything but PRAISE for Our Band. While in School I fondly remember watching the Band practice rigorously in the Lots outside Ohio Stadium and overwhelmed by the dedication and strive for perfection. Game Day is somewhat surreal even though I have seen It countless times…..They never disappoint. BRAVO, TBDBITL………..You are Worthy of an Oscar E-v-e-r-y Time! Go bucks!

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