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

34 Comments

  1. I have never watched a SuperBowl game in my life but I saw the 1984 ad on the CTV National News the night it had aired during the game.

    I had been watching the news and went to the washroom and returned to the living room just as the ad started playing as a news item. I did not realise that it was a commercial for a computer. My first impression was that it was a trailer for a movie. It was so absorbing that my attention was rivetted on the unfolding images. My thought at the time was that I would have to see this movie.. thinking it was going to be some Orwellian story. When the voice over and scroll came on the screen, I KNEW I had to have a Mac!

    I was already an Apple ][+ owner and while I couldn’t afford the first Macintosh models, I finally got a Mac SE and a change in my career path.

    For me, the 1984 ad from Apple seriously redirected my life. I abandoned technical sales and support for professional photographic and lab markets and started developing medical software on the Mac…

    Today we celebrate… Macintosh… a more powerful weapon than any fleet or army on Earth!

    Magic Word – good… Could the Mac be any better?

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  3. It didn’t just air once, it actually aired twice. The woman wasn’t really wearing sneakers, they were tennis shoes. She wasn’t really wearing shorts, they were boxers. The “tyrant” wasn’t really a tyrant, he was a middle manager. The hammer wasn’t a hammer, it was a sledgehammer. It wasn’t a metal floor the cogs were walking on, it was a molded plastic mat. The large gears in the background actually didn’t do anything. Soylent Green is actually made of people.

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