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In a 90-minute video, Apple leverages 'study with me' trend for back-to-school campaign

Apple just released a video featuring Euphoria actress Storm Reid, in which she invites others to join while she studies using the Pomodoro Technique: 25 minutes of focused work followed by a 5-minute break. A clock counts down in a corner as Reid — who is majoring in dramatic arts at USC with a minor in African-American studies — works on her MacBook or reads and highlights documents. During breaks, she eats, exercises and dances.

Originating in South Korea as gongbang, 'study with me' videos took off during the pandemic. Sessions usually last two or three hours and can rack up tens of millions of views on YouTube and TikTok. All feature someone studying on camera, either silently or with music or ambient noise. Functioning both as a timed study guide and a motivational tool, the videos emerged as a solution for remote-learning students stuck at home without in-person study buddies.

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'Study with me' videos serve as a form of body doubling. Working alongside someone, even when the other person is a prerecorded video, can help people stay on track, shut out distractions and keep going for a set amount of time. The genre has expanded beyond homework to chores like cleaning, cooking and paperwork, with viewers logging on to find motivation to complete their own tasks.

By tapping into the trend, Apple is presenting the latest version of its 15-inch MacBook Air in a true-to-life setting while also providing a helpful productivity hack. Apple's back-to-school pricing promotions may have ended earlier this month, but the video's timing neatly aligns with high school and college students facing midterms and needing to buckle down and get back to work. Which (subtle) motivational tool could your brand offer students or other audiences?

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