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1984 - The Advert That Revolutionised Advertising

"On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984."

It's very rare that one thing can have such a big impact on the world; a single piece of work can completely change the industry and the way the world moves. On January 22nd, 1984, Apple did just that.

It was the 18th Super Bowl, hosted in Tampa, Florida. The NFC and Super Bowl defending champions, the Washington Redskins, were taking on AFC champions, the Los Angeles Raiders. Although the game itself was full of excitement and adrenaline, the key point came during a break in the third quarter. The screens around the stadium illuminated, as did viewers' televisions from home, and an advert began to play.

The ad featured a dystopian society, inspired by George Orwell's novel "1984," in which people were controlled by some kind of government. Apple and the advertising agency Chiat/Day called upon Ridley Scott to direct the advertisement, after his work on a similar atmosphere and environment in Blade Runner. Now, considering Blade Runner is one of my least favourite films of all time, it's interesting that I love "1984" so much... But I guess the only thing they have in common is the "dystopia". The thing I love about "1984" is what it stands for.

The advert depicts a woman breaking free from the control of the government by throwing a sledgehammer through a large screen, which is broadcasting a propaganda message. To me, it's a metaphor for breaking free from the idea that what we have is what we have; things can be done differently and people can "think different". That's what Apple thought the Macintosh was going to be as a product, and it's what it ended up being.

The Macintosh Super Bowl advert was revolutionary for several reasons. Firstly, it was completely different from traditional advertising approaches. All of the product advertisements before "1984" were about promoting the features of a product. Instead, "1984" focused on the product's impact on society and the revolutionary spirit that it embodied. This approach was groundbreaking at the time and set a new standard for advertising that emphasised creativity and storytelling, rather than just advertising product features. It was also one of the first ever product advertisements that didn't even show an image of the product.

By airing the ad during the Super Bowl, Apple was able to reach a massive audience and generate a buzz that went far beyond the usual advertising cycle. By advertising it at an event, the advert became an event in itself. It was originally designed to be broadcast on TV after the Super Bowl, however Apple decided not to go ahead with that. Instead, it became a single event, and has inspired other companies to do the exact same thing at events like the Super Bowl ever since. Companies now spend hundreds of thousands of pounds each year on one off Super Bowl adverts, and are watched by millions of people across the globe. These, along with the Super Bowl Half Time Show, have become, arguably, more popular than the game itself.

I believe that "1984" established Apple as a brand that stood for innovation, creativity, and non-conformity. It signalled a shift away from the corporate culture of the time and helped to establish Apple as a company that was in tune with the future. It completely changed the way that people advertised products, and is widely regarded as one of the most important advertisements in the history of advertising, studied in the majority of advertising degrees across the globe to this day.


Impact - 10 / 10

"1984" undoubtably changed the face of advertising for good. It had a huge impact on other companies, marketing and public perception of advertisements. It has not only reshaped the event of the Super Bowl, but advertising as a whole. No one had advertised a product in this way before, and everyone did after. If that's not 10/10 impact, I don't know what is.

Aesthetic - 6 / 10

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the whole Ridley Scott dystopia stuff... As previously mentioned, Blade Runner was one of my least favourite films of all time, and the aesthetic of "1984" is very reminiscent of that movie. However, for what Apple was trying to get across in tis advertisement, I appreciate that the aesthetic and the use of Ridley Scott worked well.

Message - 10 / 10

The message of "1984" is all about breaking free from the norm. It's about pushing boundaries and not settling for how things are; and that's what the Macintosh was all about as a product.

Originality - 10 / 10

As mentioned throughout this post, no one had advertised like this before. It seems weird to think that's the case now, but it really was a completely new way of advertising a product. And, not only was it original, it changed everything.

Clarity - 10 / 10

The message of "1984", in my opinion, is very clear, especially with the use of the quote at the end, displayed visually. I think the advertisement was very clear in its message, as well as its execution; Apple wanted to build excitement, and that came across clearly, as did the message of what the product was going to do to the world.

TOTAL - 9.2 / 10


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