This ad has been talked about so much fully dissected and minutely analyzed. But still I will write about this one. I had read about this advertisement in Odyssey by the guy who threw out Steve Job as the CEO of Apple. This guy was wooed away from Pepsi by Steve Jobs but this guy ended up throwing out Jobs. Jobs had told him the famous words, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugared water or do you want to change the world?” This line was a killer and this guy (I think his name was John Sculley) came to Apple.
Cut to 1983, Apple was launching its killer computer to fight on PCs. Christened as Macintosh aka Mac, it promised good days ahead for Apple. Now these guys decided to make the launch big.
In the United States, the most watched sports event is the SuperBowl. These guys decided to introduce Mac to general public during SuperBowl 1984. They called their ad agency Chiat/Day and directed the agency to make the advertisement and spare no expense. This ad was to be directed by Ridely Scott, a hotshot Hollywood directed who had Alien and Bladerunner to his credit (and now Gladiator). Shot in London, this ad was the most expensive ever shot till that time.
Apple had originally bought one and a half minutes of air time for one and a half million dollars. When the senior management saw the ad, they directed the ad agency to sell the airtime. A buyer for 30 secs was found but no one bought the one minute time. Apple decided to go ahead with the ad.
It was shown to a large audience for the first time in October 1983, at Apple's annual sales conference in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Based on their initial reaction, Apple executives booked two slots during the upcoming Super Bowl. However, the Apple board of directors was dismayed by the ad and instructed management not to show it and sell the slots. Despite of the board's dislike of the film Steve Wozniak watched it and offered to pay for the spot personally if the board refused to air it.
A perhaps apocryphal story has Apple only able to sell one slot and then deciding that they might as well use the other and show the ad. It aired at the first commercial break after the second-half kick-off.
In reality, the reason the commercial was saved from total cancellation was the result of an act of defiance and an act of bravado.
The board hadn't demanded the commercial be killed, nonetheless Sculley asked Chiat/Day to sell back the one and one half minutes of Super Bowl television time that they had purchased. The original plan was to play the full-length, 60-second 1984 spot to catch everyone's attention, then hammer home the message during a subsequent commercial break with an additional airing of an edited 30-second version.
Defying Sculley's request, Jay Chiat told his media director, Camille Johnson, "Just sell off the thirty." Johnson laughed, thinking it would be impossible to sell any of the time at so late a date, but miraculously, she managed to find a buyer for the 30-second slot. That still left Apple with a 60-second slot for which it had paid $800,000.
The decision whether to run the commercial was left to VP of Marketing William V. Campbell and Executive VP of Marketing and Sales E. Floyd Kvamme. In the end, the two decided to run the commercial.
Ok now I have directly copied stuff fro website so that the people who haven’t seen the ad can appreciate it.
The camera opens on a corridor in a futuristic city. Heavily dressed males march in unison past surveillance cameras and computer screens. A blonde athlete, wearing red shorts and a white Apple Picasso t-shirt, runs towards us carrying a hammer. We now see that the men all have shaven heads. One wears a gas mask. Riot police run towards us, batons in hands.
We’ve been hearing a male voice coming through the public address system. And now we see Big Brother’s face - with two sets of glasses - on a huge wall-sized screen. “For today we celebrate the first, glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directive! We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths.”
“Our Unification of Thought is a more powerful weapon than any fleet or army on Earth! We are one people. With one will. One resolve. One cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death. And we will bury them with their own confusion!”
The athlete runs into the auditorium, pursued by the security troops. She swings the hammer round and round, releasing it to go flying into the screen. “We shall prevail!” The screen explodes. The seated skinheads mutely gaze at the explosion, mouths agape.
The text is displayed and spoken, “On January 24th Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.” The ad finishes with the six-color Apple logo.
The ad was very topical and as well as strtegical. IBM was about to launch the new PCjr computer for the home market. The Apple Macintosh would be launched later in the month, surpassing the Apple II. This ‘teaser’ was designed to alert viewers to the new era in personal computers, long enough to stop them from investing in the IBM. The whole advertisement represented the capacity for the Apple color screen to outdo the monotone world of the IBM.
The 1984 theme comes from George Orwell’s novel, “1984″, originally written as an critique of Fascist government in the years after World War II. Orwell introduced the phrases, “Big Brother”, “thought police”, “two minutes hate” and “newspeak” and “telescreen”. The voice from the telescreen in the novel is expressed faithfully in the Apple ad. Apple, by providing an alternative operating system, was challenging IBM’s monopoly on the development of personal computers. As it is not very hard to imagine Big Brother was IBM.
This ad can be viewed and downloaded from the following link:
Enjoy and get hooked!
Just an update, the ad ran again recently but this time the female was wearing an iPOD!!