Learn from the Best: The Super Bowl ad that made Apple what it is today

Learn from the Best: The Super Bowl ad that made Apple what it is today

Welcome to a new series we’re calling ‘Learn from the Best’.

Say you’re looking to get a new advertising campaign up and running and you want to make it the best it can possibly be. The best place to start looking for inspiration is from the best of the best. There are key lessons behind some of the most famous, viral and successful video content ad campaigns that you can apply to your own campaign. If you’re looking to get your creative juices flowing you might find that the stories behind these ads might motivate you and kick you into gear with a new idea. You might just be here because you’re interested in some fun facts about famous ads that you remember and lucky for you, there's plenty of that to come.

So let's jump straight into things with a blast from the past with Apple’s 1984 ad.

This is the ad that started it all for Apple and their ‘Macintosh’ computer. The two key aspects that made it so successful were the creative ideas and team behind it and its response to the social and economic context of the time.

The Intention

The concept for the ad grew out of an abandoned print advertisement for the earlier ‘Apple II’ personal computer. Drawing on information gathered in a national poll earlier in 1983, Apple wanted to break the mold and create an ad that, rather than taking the conventional ‘buy this product’ format, actually addressed the concerns of American people around personal privacy and the rise of tech companies.

The Idea and the Team

Conceptualised by LA-based advertising agency Chiat/Day, and taking inspiration from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the ad depicted a young heroine, wearing the classic rainbow Apple logo, fighting back against the all-powerful ‘Big Brother,’ symbolic of IBM and their domination of the personal computer market at the time. Apple's ad was imbued with a sense of hope that a small company could fight back against the ‘Big Brother’ and give the people back their freedoms that large companies might start to take away. Ok so they had a great concept that was perfectly suited for its time, but they had to bring it successfully to screen. Enter Ridley Scott, yes that Ridley Scott. Now known for his Oscar-winning films such as Gladiator, Scott at the time had just made his Sci-Fi classic Blade Runner and seemed perfectly suited to make the ad. He was a big believer in the concepts behind the ad and signed on to shoot it.

The Outcome

When the finished product was shown to the Apple board of directors they were hesitant, with some even wanting to drop the ad altogether. After some convincing by the founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, however, they agreed to let it air in the 60-second advertising window Apple had bought at the Super Bowl XVIII and the rest is history. Whilst only played once nationally in 1984, the ad was immediately rebroadcast on news programs due to its immense popularity, resulting in an estimated $5 million of free publicity. Directly after the ads initial showing, over $3.5 million worth of Macintoshes were sold and Apple was solidified in the minds of the American people. The ad would go on to win several prestigious awards, including the Grand Prix for advertising at Cannes Film Festival, and has gone down as one of the most successful Super Bowl ads of all time.

In Summary

So what can we take away from the iconic 1984 ad? Intention is key. Who are you targeting, who is your competition, what are you promoting. After you’ve worked that out you need to assemble a team that can bring your vision to life with creativity and passion. If you can get both of these aspects just right, then the outcome will speak for itself. You might not have the large marketing budgets of these companies but if you approach your marketing the same way they do, you’re well on your way to making something engaging and memorable. Consider how you can learn from the best to make your marketing the best it can be.

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