Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Mac at 25: Or the Glorious Anniversary of the Information Purification Directives

"Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!"

-- spoken by the Big Brother figure in the January 1984 TV ad introducing Apple's new Macintosh computer. (See the full ad in Quicktime or the YouTube version embedded at the end of this post.)

Apple's iconic, Orwellian advertisement -- created by the Chiat/Day agency and directed by filmmaker Ridley Scott ("Alien," "Blade Runner") -- was almost as revolutionary as the product it was promoting. The ad poked at IBM's dominance of the emerging PC market and aired once nationally -- on Jan. 22, 1984, during Super Bowl XVIII. So, like Lyndon Johnson's shocking "Daisy" ad, which similarly was only broadcast one time during the 1964 presidential campaign, the Mac spot's power came more from the buzz it created than the reach the advertiser actually paid for.

As influential as the Macintosh was on the direction of home and office computing -- particularly in terms of the adoption of easily understood Graphical User Interfaces -- it also radically changed how computers were marketed and sold. One major factor was the Macintosh's relatively accessible price tag: $2,495, or about half the price of the IBM XT that debuted the previous year. Of course, adjusted for inflation, the same money would buy you $5,100 worth of computer today. That's enough to pay for two souped-up 15-inch MacBook Pros now.

Apple's marketing is still among the best, but I have never seen another TV advertisement that could absolutely silence a room full of rowdy Redskins fans the way Ridley Scott's "1984" spot did 25 years ago this weekend.

Watch below and see how it holds up....



1 comment:

Joe Warminsky said...

When Scott was done with all of those bald dudes, Stanely Kubrick hired them as extras for "Full Metal Jacket."