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30-minute iPad ad on ABC's 'Modern Family'

An entire episode of the sitcom revolved around a father's desperation to get an iPad. Might the fact that Disney's largest shareholder is Steve Jobs have anything to do with it?

Would anyone ever sit through a 30-minute ad for the iPad?

Wednesday, quite a few people did. One whole episode of the critically acclaimed ABC show "Modern Family" was dedicated to the deep and desperate desire associated with becoming one of the first to own the magic and revolutionary item that launches before your hangover disappears on Saturday morning.

In the show, the rather cool dad, who I believe is called Phil, is desperate to get an iPad for his birthday. In the great tradition of the sitcom dramatic arc, the script suggests he will be deeply disappointed. Until, well, he isn't.

"All this time I said I didn't care, but I really do care. I care so much," he says, on seeing his wife, Claire (played by that very nice neurotic lady from "Boston Legal" who had a fling with Michael J. Fox's dying character), produce one at the very last second.

This pretending not to care is a sentiment echoed by so many who both hope and fear that the iPad will signal a new and mold-breaking dawn in world affairs.

Phil's next line, though, would have been quite painful in a conventional ad, but, because "Modern Family" is a mockumentary, somehow stayed just this side of camembert: "Who's ready for the first day of the rest of their lives?"

This was less of a product placement and more of a product kidnapping a show and holding it by the neck very tightly indeed until it handed over a pile of money. Even the Apple store was featured. And I am sure that Steve Jobs being the largest shareholder in Disney, via the Pixar acquisition, had no influence at all in the creation of this work of art.

But it had a very clear purpose. Please repeat after me. The iPad is not a geeky product. It is one that will be seen in the kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and, yes, just occasionally, bathrooms of the typical, normal, browbeaten, modern family. Got that? Now laugh.