Friday, October 16, 2009

1984 Apple Computer Ad, January 22, 1984

There was little warning. The unhappy board members at Apple were insistent that the whole thing be killed without airing, thinking it best to forget the $800,000 spent producing the one minute commercial. Directed by Ridley Scott, the young director had just wrapped his futuristic epic Blade Runner and was teamed with advertising group Chiat/Day.

The concept was appropriate if risky. The new year brought a resurgence in George Orwell's classic novel 1984. Big Brother was on everyone's mind, but could it sell computers?

The atmosphere of the ad was dark and ominous. As a theater of mind controlled citizens stare and chant at Big Brother on a large screen, a lone runner in red gallops through the corridor, ultimately slinging a sledge hammer to the screen, destoying it. It aired just once on national television, during the Super Bowl, as a afterthought to burn the commercial while still getting some use from it; but, it began an institution. Commercials played during the Super Bowl have become as important to viewers as the game. The commercial put Apple on the map as well as creative director Lee Clow, who was responsible for this and the later Energizer Bunny and Taco Bell chihuahua campaigns.

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