The commercial in question was only aired once during the 1984 Super Bowl, but it has made a lasting impact on the advertising industry. The short video shows a bright female figure in a dark dystopian world. Despite the efforts of security forces, the woman manages to throw her sledgehammer and destroy the large screen that broadcasts propaganda from Big Brother. The clip ends with the announcement of the new Macintosh computer and a promise that “1984 won’t be like 1984” (Cole). The atmosphere of total control and utter lack of hope shown in the ad is inspired by George Orwell’s novel, however, Apple’s version has a happy ending, unlike the original.
The context of this advertisement is crucial to understanding its meaning. When the video was created, the computer industry was dominated by IBM, similar to how the world is dominated by Big Brother in 1984. It seems that Apple wanted to portray the successful computer manufacturer as a force of evil that aims to strip consumers of their freedom and monopolize the market. In this scenario, Apple, which was still a relatively small company, was the hero, the only one brave and strong enough to challenge the established regime of IBM.
The ad was meant to capitalize on the public’s fears of a future where IBM would be their only option for buying a computer. Apple positioned its new Macintosh as the only product on the market that can compete with IBM’s offerings. Associating its devices with the image of a savior proved to be an effective decision, as indicated by the fact that Apple eventually managed to beat IBM’s monopoly and become a successful company.
Cole, Robert. “Apple 1984 Super Bowl Commercial Introducing Macintosh Computer.” YouTube, 2018, Web.