Though Apple’s seminal “1984” Super Bowl ad is widely credited as being one of the best to ever air, the technology giant has advertised in the Big Game just twice in the three decades since.
However, the company might just be plotting its return to the game after a 14-year absence. In a tweet sent Jan. 19, advertising legend and longtime Apple collaborator Lee Clow hinted that Apple might celebrate the 30th anniversary of its breakthrough Macintosh computer on advertising’s biggest stage.
“Gonna be a goodSuper Bowl,” Clow tweeted. “Mac’s gonna be 30 :)”
As the chairman of TBWA\Worldwide, a network which houses Apple’s most frequent agency partner, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, Clow would definitely be a person with insight into the company’s plans. Clow spent years steering the creative direction of the account. Naturally, the tweet stirred speculation among industry watchers, like NBCNews.com’s Ben Popken, and excitement among Apple’s fans.
If Apple were to make a Super Bowl appearance Feb. 2, the ad could go a long way toward helping the brand articulate to the public a clear vision of what it is trying to be.
Apple has understandably struggled to define itself in the post-Jobs era, as competitors like Samsung have introduced new products that challenge its status as the most innovative company in consumer tech.
This struggle has played out in Apple’s advertising, as the brand has waffled between highlighting specific functions of its products, as seen in its “Designed by Apple in California” campaign, and making emotional appeals, like it did in a tearjerker holiday spot. High-minded philosophical ads like the one comparing the iPad to a pencil and the most recent commercial showing the product as a tool for producing “poetry” could be seen as a third direction the company has tried to go during the past year.
For all its efforts, Apple’s advertising has been consistently less popular with consumers than that of rival Samsung, at least according to the advertising consumer research firm Ace Metrix.
If you’re scoring at home, Apple’s two Super Bowl commercials since the monumental “1984” spot have failed to garner anywhere near the acclaim of their predecessor.
A 1985 follow-up called “Lemmings” essentially made fun of the IBM customers the company was hoping to win over, and the brand seems somewhat silly in hindsight for chastising rivals in 1999 about the “global economic disruption” that would come from the ultimately harmless Y2K bug.
Here’s the famous 1984 ad, which Clow worked on as creative director and almost didn’t make it to the Super Bowl:
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