Happy 30th Birthday, Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad

Picture: Apple and ChiatDay

Okay, so it’s not technically the 30th anniversary of the debut of Apple’s iconic “1984” ad during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII.

Apple and the production company behind what is now regarded as a pivotal moment in marketing actually aired the ad just once before the stroke of midnight on KMVT in Idaho on December 31, 1983, in order to qualify for a 1983 advertising award. Let’s just get that out of the way.

But January 22, 1984 was the day Apple showed its hand as a true innovator on both sides of the tech industry’s development/marketing coin.

The controversy that erupted from the Super Bowl airing is estimated to have garnered some $5 million in free advertising for the Mac.

Here’s the refresher:

Its legacy continues today. The original director of the “1984” ad was Ridley Scott. The voice of Big Brother, David Graham, went on to star in Thunderbirds and more recently, Peppa Pig.

And in 2004, Apple reprised the ad, this time featuring an iPod.

It’s also increasingly ironic for a variety of reasons.

  • George Orwell’s estate accused Apple of copyright infringement and sent the company a cease and desist letter over its continual airing following the Super Bowl.
  • The ‘Big Brother is watching’ watching is never more salient than in this age of NSA revelations and data-mining, made so much easier by the tracking technology built into “smart” devices.
  • And the original message was one of resisting conformity by embracing Apple products, which now has virtually no significance given the brand now openly celebrates its global appeal.

But for now, celebrate it for what it is – the first headturning example of the kind of genius that would eventually take Apple all the way to the top of its game.

Happy 30th birthday, Apple’s ‘1984’ Super Bowl Ad.

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