January 24, 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the Apple Macintosh personal computer ? a brilliant, world-changing phenomenon in its own right, but January 22 might be equally important.
Before author John Hodgeman became a beloved anti-PC pitchman, before Apple encouraged us to ?Think different,? if ungrammatically, there was Super Bowl XVIII and a 60-second commercial break in the third quarter that instituted a cultural narrative that continues to inform the world of personal computing, advertising, cinema and consumers? perception of themselves.
Apple’s epochal ?Big Brother? commercial endures as one of the most memorable (and discussed) television commercials ever broadcast. The spot earned estimable kudos for Apple marketing man Floyd Kvamme, director Ridley Scott and writers Steve Hayden and Lee Clow of ad firm Chiat/Day, including an eventual nod from Advertising Age, which declared the spot ?Commercial of the Decade.?
You recall that the spot featured athlete-turned-actress Anya Major as the busty, golden-haired Olympian who outpaces riot gear-clad thought-police and liberates a docile citizenry from the specter of an unnamed authoritarian (journeyman actor David Graham, a veteran of Doctor Who among other gigs). This is accomplished, of course, with the fortuitous introduction of a sledge hammer to a big-screen TV (more of this should happen). The commercial ends with the spoken coda ?On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ?1984.?? Indeed, the spot?s afterglow of vague wonder was more Kubrickian circa 2001 than Orwellian ? but you, you know, without the maniacal AI and dead astronauts.
In Electric Dreams: Computers in American Culture, Georgia State University communications professor Ted Friedman points out
?1984? was never broadcast again after the Super Bowl, adding to its mystique. Unintentionally, Chiat/Day had invented the phenomenon known as ?event marketing,? in which a high-visibility commercial garners mountains of extra free publicity. ?1984? also inaugurated the phenomenon of showcasing commercials on the Super Bowl. And, most importantly for Apple, the ad brought consumers into the stores??
Interesting that Apple now has its own stores ? but more to the point, its flagship product continues to empower individuals who use Macs to create everything from movies to music, as well as much in between and beyond. Not to mention the occasional fawning blog.