Case Study: Apple - 1984

"1984" was 60 seconds television commercial introducing the Apple Macintosh personal computer.

The ad was shown on TV 22nd January 1984 during the Super Bowl and never aired again. That only once broadcasted commercial is considered to be one of the greatest ads of all time.

Written by Steve Hayden, Brent Thomas and Lee Clow at Chiat\Day Agency, produced by Fairbanks Films, filmed in England with record production budget around 750,000$ and directed by Ridley Scott who was fresh off of his science fiction classic movie Blade Runner.

The tagline "Why 1984 Won't Be Like '1984'" references George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984, which envisioned a dystopian future, controlled by a televised "Big Brother". It was connected with Steve Jobs Steve vision that Apple has revolutionary products and seeing dominating on computer market IBM as "Big Brother" (IBM already had nickname "Big Blue"). In script a lone woman clad in vibrant red shorts and a white tank-top (bearing a Mac logo) runs from riot police, dashing up an aisle towards screen showing Big Brother. Just after he says "We shall prevail!" she flings a sledgehammer at screen smashing it.

The commercial concludes with text and voice from backround reading it: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'"

Jobs was very enthusiastic about final version but the entire Board of Directors hated it. John Sculley Apple's CEO even instructed Chiat\Day to sell off the Super Bowl airtime they had already purchased, but Chiat\Day principal Jay Chiat quietly resisted. Chiat had purchased two slots lasting together 60-second in the third quarter to show the full ad, plus a 30-second slot later on to repeat an shortened version. Chiat sold only the 30-second slot and claimed it was too late to sell the longer one. Apple had no other ad to air it in that time so by disobeying his client's instructions, Chiat cemented Apple's place in advertising history.

In 2004 in 20-year anniversary Apple prepared updated version with woman having an iPod clipped to her belt and having earphones with white cable in her ears.