Apple’s 1984: A Trifecta of Pure Communication Power

Apple’s 1984:  A Trifecta of Pure Communication Power

Essay by: David Johanson Vasquez ©

With this weeks passing of Apple Computer’s founder, Steve Jobs, I reflect on a single advertising event, which he helped to create one of the greatest ads of all time.

This TV ad still evokes the shock and awe I experienced while viewing it the first time during Super Bowl 18.  The legendary, Apple “1984” commercial launched its new Macintosh PC and created a seismic ripple effect whose good-vibrations are still felt today.  The efforts of three titans converged, to harness their energies for creating what is arguably the greatest ad in television history.  Apple Computer hired Chiat/Day, who in turn tapped director Ridley Scott to produce a visually stunning 30-second blockbuster ad with vivid multi-layers of symbolism.  The spot fascinated millions of viewers and news programs began replaying the ad like a pinball machine ricocheting in overdrive. With Apple’s SB18 TV spot heralded as a stunning success, Chiat/Day won a jackpot prize for its client by inadvertently inventing “event marketing.”  Apple’s 1984 commercial wears a triple crown of success for establishing the company’s vision and making it tangible to the public via a marketing, branding and advertising masterpiece.

Here’s an interesting tipple-play of ironies, the ad was almost pulled from airing due to Apple’s BOD perception of it being too provocative.  It also only aired once in primetime television due to a cease-and-desist letter sent by The Estate of George Orwell for potential copyright infringement of the novel “1984.” Last and perhaps most surprising is the ad’s début and incidentally the only other time of its airing was in Twin Falls, Idaho on December 1983, right before 1:00 a.m. sign –off, to qualify it for entry into award ceremonies for the year.  Like millions of other viewers watching the Apple 1984 ad for the first time, I had Mac envy and this brilliant example of advertising motivated me to become an Apple user to this day.