In 1984, Apple released its original Macintosh personal computer, the Macintosh 128K. It was a product that changed computing, but alongside its launch came an equally extraordinary commercial.
In the fourth episode of B&T’s The Ads I Wish I’d Made series, produced in collaboration with Powered by Nine, Special Group Australia chief executive Lindsey Evans reveals why she believes ‘1984’ helped turn the Super Bowl into an advertising powerhouse.
It comes as Nine lays down the gauntlet to creatives to produce industry-defining commercials in State of Originality, for the network’s 2021 State of Origin spectacle, with $1 million in advertising up for grabs across Nine’s TV, digital, radio and print assets for the winning ad.
Directed by Ridley Scott, 1984 was created to launch the Apple Macintosh, a computer aiming to change the tech landscape, and aired on CBS during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII.
Channelling the dystopian world of George Orwell’s 1984, the commercial portrayed Apple as a liberator from conformity and displaced IBM and its competitors in personal computing.
The ad was devised by Chiat/Day’s Steve Hayden, Brent Thomas, and Lee Clow, produced by New York production company Fairbanks Films, and directed by Ridley Scott.
Additionally, English athlete Anya Major performed as the unnamed star, who wears a white tank top with a stylised line drawing of the Apple Macintosh, with David Graham as Big Brother.
“If it wasn’t for that ad, I don’t think Super Bowl advertising would be what it is today,” Evans tells Powered by Nine director Liana Dubois.
“In one 60-second ad Apple managed to position themselves as the liberator, as being creative, as being original—and at the same time completely deposition IBM and all the competitors surrounding it in that marketplace as being dull, soulless, boring, robotic and conformist.
“And that has been the case ever since.”
In the long take of her interview with Dubois, Evans also chats about The Guardian’s award-winning ‘Skinhead’ commercial, a genius ad also known as ‘Points of View’, which aired in 1986.
A BMP masterpiece from John Webster and Frank Budgen, the ad depicts a bald-headed man (a skinhead) from three different perspectives who appears to be wrestling a man’s briefcase from his hands—the camera then cuts and we see that he is in fact trying to rescue the man from falling bricks.
Points of View challenges us not to rush to conclusions, to see things from all perspectives as The Guardian claimed it did, and was directed by Paul Weiland.
Weiland described it as the best ad he’d ever made.
As well as being a British advertising masterpiece, its an ad that sits close to the Special Group Australia CEO, who says Points of View inspired her to get into advertising.
“It’s a perfect ad, in every way,” Evans says. “It’s just impeccable in its thinking, strategy, execution, its impact and how it has endured over time as a message.”
Evans describes the ad as “a beautifully executed reminder of the dangers of bias”.
“It works so well because it has this rare ability to let you experience the truth and the message rather than just be told it,” she says.
“As a viewer, you are experiencing the message and not being bashed over the head with it—and that is then hugely personal, because it makes you challenge your own preconceptions and understand the dangers of bias and not being able to understand the whole picture.”
Entries for Nine’s State of Originality are now open, with the nation’s largest creative prize, $1 million in advertising, up for grabs for creatives who can come up with an industry defining commercial for the State of Origin.
For more information and to enter, click here.
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