APPLES ‘1984’ SUPER BOWL AD.
SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST
Apple Macs have always been synonymous with design – from the first machines launched 34 years ago last week and the iconic, coloured perspex cases of 1998’s iMac through to the ever-thinning lines of their laptops and the domination of the tablet market, Apple has consistently led the way in both style and usability.
But although Macs are now renowned for being used for design, their first model (the quirk-laden 128K) will be forever known in advertising and design circles for another reason – the famous ‘1984’ Super Bowl TV spot.
Directed by Ridley Scott, this groundbreaking ad that heralded the impending arrival of the first Apple to carry the Macintosh name was aired at the Super Bowl on Jan 17 (although it had also been shown in December the previous year so it could be entered by agency Chiat/Day into upcoming awards).
Although many staff within Apple didn’t like the ad at the time, and the ad never ran again thanks to a cease-and-desist letter from author George Orwell’s estate, it is still frequently regarded as a masterpiece of modern advertising. In fact, the company didn’t need to show it more than once to generate huge publicity – the striking, unique nature of the ad was such that news channels across America chose to show the clip again and again following its dramatic debut.
Taking inspiration from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and dystopian silent era film Metropolis, it was a thought-provoking ad that could either been seen to show then-computing giants IBM as Big Brother and Apple as the hammer thrower, or less specifically to represent the underdog taking on bigger opposition. However you interpreted the ad, it went on to become an iconic TV spot and had won seven awards between its release and 2007 – including Best Super Bowl Spot, Advertising Age’s Greatest Commercial and TV Guide’s Greatest Commercial of All Time.
The ad was still as effective 20 years on when it was re-run to advertise the iPod – it went untouched, aside from giving the nameless heroine one of Apple’s mp3 players to wear while launching her hammer at Big Brother. So while the computer it was advertising may look dated now, the TV ad’s bleak imagery and open-ended message was still as effective and visually stimulating then as it was two decades earlier.