Apple isn’t just famous for its computers. Apple is also responsible for some of the most charming adverts in history. Take a look at some of the greatest Apple adverts of all times: the ones that made the Macintosh the most desirable piece of computer hardware of all time.
Most Apple fans know Apple’s famous 1984 advert, but lesser-known adverts like Snail and Dinosaurs may have passed by you. So let’s take a look at some of the most powerful advertisements in history.
Apple ad: 1984
No Apple Macintosh video compilation could start with anything but the classic 1984 advert. This 1984 commercial screened during the Super Bowl and introduced the Apple Macintosh computer. The Apple board reportedly hated the advert so much that they asked the agency to sell off the spot, although the agency only managed to sell a part of the booked slot, so Jobs and Wozniak still got their 60 second commercial. The ad plays into classic Apple fan territory, positioning the company as the plucky underdog favoured by creatives fighting against corporate mundanity.
Ted Friedman, in his book Electric Dreams: Computers in American Culture, said “Super Bowl viewers were overwhelmed by the startling ad. The ad garnered millions of dollars worth of free publicity, as news programs rebroadcast it that night. It was quickly hailed by many in the advertising industry as a masterwork.” The advert was only officially broadcast a single time, creating an air of mystique in the pre-YouTube days.
See: 1984 (Wikipedia)
[Read more of our 30th anniversary of the Mac coverage over at our Mac at 30 channel.]
The Making of Apple 1984
Thanks to YouTube there are a now a few other videos to watch about the classic 1984 Apple advert. We quite like this Making Of Apple 1984 video, that shows the behind the scene filming.
This was an internal advert shown at an Apple International Sales Meeting in Hawaii. It takes the Ghostbusters theme tune and reworks it to poke fun at IBM (whose nickname is ‘Big Blue’).
Presented at Apple's International Sales Meeting held in Hawaii on October 1984.
Apple ad: Snail, 1998
This is another classic Apple Advert, this time poking fun at the Intel Pentium II processor (as compared to Apple’s G3 chip). The video shows a snail carrying an Intel Processor on its back, it slowly shuffles into view as a voice-over informs you that the Intel Pentium II is not the fastest processor in the world, and that the PowerPC 750 is up to twice as fast.
Apple ad: Internet
In the early days of the Internet his Apple advert starts with the words “what would you do, to change the world?” It then flashes between Macs in different settings as children say inspiration things like: “end hunger” and “everyone gets a house”. While the message comes across as a bit naive these days, it’s inspirational to see the excitement that the Internet created when it first appeared.
Apple ad: Mac vs Ordinary PC
Way before the Mac versus PC adverts that Apple ran in the 00’s was this advert. Switching between an Macintosh (we believe one of the clones from the late 1980s) and a Windows PC it compares the Mac (along with fanfare) to the PC (with dowdy music). It’s one of the cheaper-looking Apple adverts, and doesn’t sit very comfortably along such grandiose efforts like Snail and 1984. It shows that comparing Mac to Windows wasn’t just a recent affair: Apple’s always done it.
Apple ad: Dinosaurs, 1994
Another Apple advert attacking Microsoft Windows. This Apple Dinosaur ad shows a dad hoping to entertain his kid with CD-ROM multimedia. “Loading CD-ROM into Windows” the dad says with a sigh, and “configure jumpers and dip-switches?” The kid leaves to go to a friends saying “they have a Mac”. Although the ad is another dig at Windows, in this instance most people think it’s fair. Setting up an early Windows PC to run CD-ROM< multimedia was a technical nightmare.
Apple ad: The Quadra Revolution, 1991
This is one of our favourite Apple adverts. The best Apple adverts, like 1984, Think Different and Snail are not immediately apparent. The Quadra Revolution fools you into thinking you’re watching a car advert, before pulling out to reveal the computer.
Apple ad: Think Different, 1997
Another classic. The Think Different advert featured black and white clips of famous people: Einstein, Gandhi, Picasso, and so on. Meanwhile the narrator recites a monologue about how they were “the crazy ones” and how they were the only ones crazy enough to think they could change the world. This is another absolute classic up in the same league as 1984, and it’s worth noting that this marks the return of Steve Jobs to Apple (especially if you compare it with ads like “Mac vs Ordinary PC” from a few years earlier).
Apple Ad: 3 Steps
The iMac was introduced with a flourish with this cute video narrated by Jeff Goldblum. In the video he outlines the steps to setting up an iMac, before laughing and saying “there’s no step 3”. It fits into the rallying cry of “it just works” from the Apple faithful, but also addresses a problem that many people had with the Internet, that it could be painfully tricky to connect a computer to a network. Goldblum’s infectious laugh is what really sells the iMac to you though. Another classic.
Bonus Apple Advert: Two Kinds Of People, 1983
Apple didn’t just start advertising with the Macintosh. Just before the Macintosh launched, in 1983, Jobs and co were trying to push the Apple Lisa computer. This advert stars a young Kevin Costner. “Soon there’ll be just two kinds of people” says a narrator in dulcet tones, while piano music tinkles in the background “those who use computers, and those who use Apples”.