Apple’s ‘1984’ commercial named best Super Bowl ad ever

“Apple Inc.’s 1984 TV commercial was named the best Super Bowl spot in the game’s 40-year history, a Florida communications company [BCCI] said Wednesday. The Jan. 22, 1984, commercial aired in the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, launching the Macintosh personal computer,” UPI reports.

Apple – 1984:

UPI reports, “The commercial, which aired only once, was the best on the basis of impact, sales and viewer memorability, said Bob Circosta, president of [BCCI]. The second-best commercial was Anheuser-Busch Cos. 1989 Bud Bowl, Circosta said. The computer-animated spot featured Budweiser bottles playing a football game against Bud Light bottles. Those two commercials managed to transcend marketing and actually became staples of our American culture, Circosta said.”

Full article here.
In June 1999, TV Guide ran a cover story on the “50 Greatest Commercials of All Time.” Apple’s “1984” ad was #1 on the list. TV Guide wrote:

“With a single airing during Super Bowl XVIII, ‘1984’ did more to change the way ads are created and viewed than any commercial in years. It was not the most heartwarming spot nor a big laugh getter, but it turned a little-known brand into a household name and set a new commercial standard for production values and cinematic style. ‘1984’ also raised the financial stakes: Apple spent a then-outlandish sum of $400,000 to produce the ad and $500,000 to air it; 15 years later, a minute of Super Bowl time costs $3.2 million. Lee Clow, then executive creative director of Chiat/Day, recalls that ‘1984’ almost debuted during a lowlier college bowl game. ‘We had to make a last-minute switch to the Super Bowl because Apple wanted to air the ad closer to the date when the product would actually be available for sale,’ he says. ‘Funny how something that simple could have changed a big piece of advertising history.”

Did you know that Apple’s “1984” commercial, widely credited with starting the Super Bowl advertising craze, actually aired twice? The actual first airing was on a small U.S. local station — KMVT-TV (Twin Falls, Idaho) on December 15, 1983 in the 1:00am sign-off slot — in order for the spot to qualify for 1983 advertising awards.

Apple remastered the famous spot to add in an iPod and showed it at MacWorld Expo in January 2004. “We couldn’t resist,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs:

Related articles:
RUMOR: Apple to launch widescreen multi-touch iPod, Beatles deal via Super Bowl ad – January 19, 2007
Report: Apple to announce iTunes Store deal with The Beatles via Super Bowl commercial – January 17, 2007


  1. My vision of a 2007 commercial. A 35″ LCD, DLP, and/or LED TV that turns out to instead be the next iMac with iSight zooming in to someone on their couch using video iChat.
    If Apple wants to really get into the living room, they are already in place with the iMac. Now that the prices of LCDs are dropping,
    I would purchase a 35″ iMac TV for $2,500. Every other company has to go in reverse order and add the computer to the TV, but with the iMac, HDTV can be added to the computer. The form thickness would still be about the same as today’s new TV’s. All these connecting devices to the living room are cool, but why not just come out with iMac TV with resolution independence in order to see larger menus from 15 feet, the laser Mighty Mouse that tracks on your blue jeans, a zoomable built-in iSight to video conference, auto resolution matching for the TV, and a keyboard with ergonomics that work well on your lap. I can see the emergency board meetings at Dell and HP if/when this thing gets announced.

  2. Think, Microsoft wasn’t the behemoth it became, but it was far from a blip. By 1984 there were many clones, all using DOS. The monopoly was well under way, although the general public wasn’t aware of it.


  4. “1. Unabashed disdain for Microsoft and its institutionalized mediocrity.”

    Uh, back in 1984, Microsoft was still a little software company up in Washington. They’d signed a big deal with IBM, but that was about it. IBM was the “big brother” figure.


  5. I remember the reaction when it did air. We (Byte Shop employees Seattle/Tacoma) rented a big screen to watch the game/commercial. It was truly jaw dropping. Customers came in for weeks afterwards because they saw the commercial.

    By the way, don’t give Apple all the credit for “inventing” event marketing/advertising. We were doing some of it ourselves at the time with the Apple IIe, PCjr and others.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.