Update: A reader who was in attendance at the infamous board meeting where Apple’s directors panned the “1984” ad explains that the directors actually DID order Jobs to kill the ad. He tried, but as Steve Hayden’s AdWeek story makes clear, Apple couldn’t sell off one of the 60-second spots they had already purchased, so the ad had to run once — and never again. The rest is history.
Earlier: In AdWeek this week, Steve Hayden writes about working on what’s regarded as the greatest Super Bowl tech ad of all time, Apple’s “1984” spot.
Amazingly, Apple was much more interested in promoting the Lisa — its short-lived $10,000 computer for businesses — and considered the Mac spot an afterthought.
The ad was directed by Ridley Scott, who had recently finished his dystopian masterpiece “Blade Runner,” and it was amazingly dark for a Super Bowl spot.
Later, when Steve Jobs and Mike Murray played the spot for Apple’s board of directors, every single one of them hated it and chairman Mike Markula asked if they could fire the ad agency.
Fortunately, they left the final decision to Jobs and Murray. Jobs recognised that the spot would create huge buzz — he also worried that it would create an “information vacuum” about the Mac, so he ordered a big print campaign to explain how it was different from the green-screen DOS computers that were common at the time.
Hayden also notes that they ran the spot in 11 markets — the top 10 US markets by population, plus Boca Raton, Florida, where IBM’s PC business unit was headquartered.
The ad has become so legendary, that Motorola is paying homage to it in an ad for its upcoming Android-based Xoom tablet.
Now, in case you’ve forgotten how striking it was at the time, here’s the ad again: