How to Change the World: Think Apple

Chill alternative transportation, bro.

We all know Apple.  The coolest name in computers.  Revolutionaries of portable music.  The Big Apple.  The city that never sleeps.  Ok, I don’t think I’m describing the right thing anymore.  You get the picture, though.  It isn’t just the iPods, iMacs, iPhones and iTunes that have made the brand an icon.  For decades, Apple has been accompanying their creations with memorable advertising.

It all started out with a bang in 1984.  To introduce the original Macintosh, agency Chiat/Day tapped Ridley Scott to direct a 60-second TV spot playing off of George Orwell’s famous book, “1984.”  The epic, $900,000 production (at the time, an unheard of amount for a commercial) debuted during the Super Bowl in, of course, 1984.  Now a legend among advertising creative, the Mac’s “1984” set the tone for the innovative, alternative culture that Apple represented with its computer.

Fast forward to 1997, the company is on the cusp of beginning its rise to dominance, and releases the “Think Different” campaign with their long-time agency partner (now known as TBWA/Chiat/Day).  The signature TV spot was another powerful one.  Narrated by the distinguished voice of Richard Dreyfuss, it featured icons of world culture – Einstein, Gandhi, Muhammad Ali and others – deemed the “crazy ones” by Dreyfuss.  He tells us, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  Watch it below, and try not to feel inspired.

Showcasing the Brand Core: The new millennium brought with it Apple’s ubiquitous product, the iPod, and the accompanying ad campaign left its mark on pop culture.  Dancing, black silhouettes with their white headphones and iPods were showing up on commercials, billboards and magazines.  Spoofs from The Simpsons, Family Guy and Mad Magazine, as well as fan-made Halloween costumes signaled the deep impact of the work.  All of the sudden, white on black over “insert-bright-colored-background” became instantly recognizable as the hottest device in Don’t-bother-me-I’m-listening-to-Milli-Vanilli technology since the Walkman.  And while the product might have done fine on its own, it was the simplistic, aesthetic appeal of dancing like an idiot* that provided the sizzle.

*Meant in a completely positive way.

Moving back to the Mac and continuing the streak of success from the geniuses in Cupertino, “I’m a PC. I’m a Mac.” (referenced at top) brought the fun during its run of nearly four years on TV.  Taking a jab (and another, and then another) at the competition, Apple managed to sustain its “Think Different” essence as it displayed the other guy’s nearly utter ineptitude for making anything easy.  Once again, the ads are simple, amusing and get their point across: Things are just easier with a Mac.  While Mac may hold a relatively small market share, he can take comfort in the thought that PC likely has a Nano in his pocket.

Despite having existed for decades, it is still refreshing to see the marriage of great products with great advertising.  When the next iWhatever hits the market, expectations will be high for both invention and message.  I imagine those expectations will be met.  And Steve Jobs will tell us about it with the humility and meekness of a sledge hammer going through a television screen.

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