Great Apple Ads

TV, Radio & Print

There has been a lot of controversy in Apple's lifetime concerning advertisement. Mainly, everybody (including me) thinks Apple doesn't make enough of them. But when they do, like them or not, they're exceptionally unique. This section is dedicated to those advertisements that really hit the spot in saying what Apple was about. I've also included a little history when available. Most of these ads were written by either TBWA Chiat/Day, creator of the "1984" commercial, or BBDO, Apple's long-time ad agency which was let go when Jobs arrived. Some of these ads you are probably very familiar with, others you probably didn't think existed. Even so, they were all great Apple ads. I've put a "?" next to information I'm not sure of, if you have any information to add or correct please e-mail me.

Note: I do not have any iMac commercials listed. Why? Mainly because you can't blink without missing an iMac ad lately. And though they are very well done, they don't need any more advertisement here (besides, Apple's been offering them on their front page for weeks). Below are the rarer, older ads Apple ran went it was a little more "shy".

Credits: Apple Computer, BBDO, TBWA Chiat/Day, The Mac Advocate, Wieck Photo Database, EXIT San Fransisco


Title: 1984 Agency: TBWA Chiat/Day
Download QuickTime Movie | Read more about this ad

Of course, the most famous Apple ad ever, and probably the famous commercial ever, is "1984". Directed by Ridley Scott, it shows an athletic woman in orange shorts and a tank top with the Mac logo on it running down a hall with a sledgehammer. Meanwhile, Big Brother speaks from a theater-sized screen to a hypnotized audience of bald people in futuristic outfits. The woman enters the theater, spins to gain momentum, and throws the sledgehammer at the image of Big Brother causing a large explosion. It's really an awesome site. If you haven't seen it by now, do yourself a favor and download it today. This commercial also has some very interesting history, which I'll probably write about sometime in the future. For now you can get more information on the history of this commercial at Owen Linzmayer's web site, which also includes the commercial's transcript.


Title: Crowd Control Agency: BBDO West
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This is one of my favorite Apple commercials. It summarizes everything us Mac evangelists have been complaining about for years. It starts out with a man trying to run a presentation using Windows 95 to a huge audience. Of course, he can't get it running, and several people in the audience suggest he type several arcane DOS commands. "They said this would be easy," he says. Indeed, that is exactly the point. There is still only one way to go when you want ease of use and reliability: Macintosh.


Title: Snail Agency: TBWA Chiat/Day
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When I first saw it, I really loved this ad. It finally showcases the power of the PowerPC four years after its birth, which is in dire need of advertising in order to keep those dancing Intel bunnies at bay. Anyway, the commercial starts out with a snail walking across the screen very slowly with slow old-fashioned music in the background. You finally notice about halfway through the snail's journey that it has a Pentium II processor on it's back (Ironically, you know what it looks like because it is shown so often on Intel ads). The voice-over later informs you that the Intel Pentium II processor is not the fastest processor in the world, and that the PowerPC 750 (G3) is up to twice as fast.


Title: Toasted Bunnies Agency: TBWA Chiat/Day
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When Apple's PR department first announced it would show a new ad on ABC during primetime titled "Toasted Bunnies", everybody was incredibly curious as to what it would be about. It turns out they were talking about those ridiculous technicians in bunny suits (the spacesuit-type outfits) getting "flamed" by Apple. Though at first I thought it was just another Think Different commercial not even worth mentioning, I later figured out that it was pure marketing genius. Similar to "Snail", once you watch this commercial once you can't stop thinking about it when Intel puts their commercials on the air (which is very, very often). So even though Apple is on a tight budgeting schedule, Chiat/Day has figured out a way to turn Intel's advertising campaign against them. Any time they play a commercial with bunny suit characters, people will think of the toasted bunny, and Apple. In one step, they have both demolished the competition's ad campaign and gotten more advertising bang for their buck than anybody could've realized. Kudos to both Apple and Chiat/Day again on a job well done.


Title: Think Different Agency: TBWA Chiat/Day
Download QuickTime Movie

This ad kicked off the "Think Different" campaign. It shows short clips of several influential figures in this century. Such include Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Alfred Hitchcock, Pablo Picasso, and several others. Richard Dreyfuss, the narrator, says how these were "the crazy ones", how they were the only ones crazy enough to think they can change the world, and did. The main theme though is that Mac users "think differently" as Steve Jobs said in his keynote speech at Macworld Expo Boston '97. That to use a Mac, you have to be a little bit crazy. There have been mixed feelings about the commercial, since the only thing that makes it an Apple commercial is a small faded-in Apple logo at the end. Also only faithful Mac users really understand the hidden meaning behind it. I for one, liked it a lot.


Title: Nightmare After Christmas Agency: BBDO?
Download QuickTime Movie

This was another ad the emphasized the message us evangelists are trying to put out to the masses. It involves a dad in his Windows-based computer, who asks his son if he wants to learn about dinosaurs using his new computer. The son is really anxious to see them, but the father just can't seem to get the CD-ROM to work right. The son asks his father continuously when he can finally see these dinosaurs. After configuring DIP switches and fixing jumpers, the father still can't get his computer to work. The son finally leaves to go to his friend's house...they have a Macintosh. I like this one a lot as well.


Title: Curve Ball
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I like this commercial because its aimed at the often neglected education market, which is a major part of Apple's sales. Fortunately, Apple is now beginning to realize what an important market it is, and how it is beginning to lose it. Here a man tries to explain to his son how to throw a curve ball, but just can't explain how the ball curves. The voice-over then informs you to use the platform most used by teachers: Macintosh. And further explains the superiority of the Mac platform in education. It is a one in a series of three commercials with the same theme.


Screenshot of Mac running NetscapeTitle: Apple/BMW Agency: BBDO?
Download QuickTime Movie

I like this ad because it showcases a fact not enough people know, and are surprised when they hear it. Anytime I tell someone that more web sites are made on a Macintosh than any other platform, they get this puzzled look on their face. Last time I checked, something like 64% of web sites were designed on the Macintosh (including this one, of course). Because of this, I'm glad Apple is finally paying more attention to the web design market with their WebObjects and such.


Title: Quadra Revolution Agency: BBDO?
Download QuickTime Movie

This one is pretty popular so I decided to add it. Introducing the Quadra line of Macintoshes, it starts out like a car commercial, with the camera view from the driver's seat. The narrator boasts how powerful this new product is, how unbelievably fast it runs, how maneuverable it is. Then it says that its best feature is what it runs imagination. I thought it was pretty interesting the first time I saw it because, like "Think Different" and "1984", you don't know it's an Apple commercial (or computer commercial even) till the very end.


Radio - Print

Title: DOS Sympathizer Agency: BBDO - Read Transcript
I was surprised to find this radio ad transcript at BBDO's web site. It's pretty interesting, another ad emphasizing on the complexity of MS-DOS, and how the Macintosh is so much simpler.

Title: C:\NGRTLNS.W95? Agency: MWW/Savitt - Read Ad | Read more about this ad
Probably my favorite ad period, this ran on two full pages in several newspapers and caused quite an uproar. Basically, all it says is "C:\NGRTLNS.W95" (if you don't see it yet, it says "Congratulations Windows 95" in DOSese). It's another devious attempt to show consumers that even behind Window's GUI lies the ugly beast that is DOS. Reminds me of a similar sarcastic ad Apple ran when the IBM PC came out, with similar results, the IBM PC became incredibly popular making MS-DOS a pathetic standard. Hmmm, maybe they should stop running these kind of ads...

Title: Introducing Windows 95 - Read Ad
This ad was also run during the introduction of Windows 95. Microsoft's ridiculously huge ad campaign touted how you could throw things in the trash and take it out again, or how you could any number of things Macs have been doing for over a decade. Then it shows you some interesting facts about the Mac.

Title: Looks like a duck... - Read Ad
Another ad introduced during the Windows 95 hoopla. This ad shows that while a machine with Windows 95 might look like a Mac, it certainly isn't one. Overall Apple advertising was superb during the summer of 1995, when it was actually run. What Apple needs to do is run these kind of ads all the time because unfortunately, some people only believe what they read in ads or commercials.

Title: Leave Your Mark Agency: BBDO - Read Ads
This is a bunch of ads in a series I was not aware of until I visited BBDO's site. It has several different questionnaire-type questions, an inspiring message, and the slogan "Leave you mark". I think it's pretty interesting albeit having nothing to do with Apple or the Mac. My favorite is the one with a map and the words "You are here...leave your mark". Others include "Before your turn 30 you will...", "Your dream is...", and "What nobody knows about you is...".

Title: Fence Sitters? - Read Ad
This ad is interesting because it advertises the PowerPC. Like I've said before, this amazing little processor hasn't been given the recognition it deserves. The ad is designed for those people who are undecided about using either a Pentium-based computer or a PowerPC-based one. A woman with a thought bubble over her head thinks about the many pros of the PowerPC processor.

Copyright © 1998 Andy F. Mesa

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