Critique of Apple ad “1984”

Analysis & Critique of Apple’s Ad


            In 1984, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, one of the most famous commercials of all time aired to millions of viewers.  At the end of this 60 second ad, a voice-over announces, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce the Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”  The commercial directed by Ridley Scott and costing $900,000 dollars to produce, would introduce Apple’s Macintosh for the first time, according to  The ad, “1984” as its known, is interesting to me because of how much of a landmark product it portrays and how it changed people’s lives.

The ad is mesmerizing to say the least.  From the beginning you see these strange pale men marching in unison through a lighted tunnel.  It grabs your attention from the beginning seeing these strange men.  The screen flashes over to an unnamed heroine running down a walkway being chased by full clad security guards.  It feels as though you are watching the climax of a movie at this point.  Everyone is marching and running to this auditorium with a giant screen.  A screen with this, “Big Brother,” figure blaring ideology from it as his strange minions look on.  You begin to wonder why everyone is watching him and what it is he’s trying to say.  The most entertaining part is the heroine.  She is blonde, dressed in what looks like a hooters girl outfit, and holding a big sledgehammer.  She looks completely out of place, but with a picture of an apple computer on her shirt you know she represents something.

The ad would have us believe the heroine represents the coming of Macintosh.  She is different from everyone else, and doesn’t conform to the norm.  Big Brother seems to represent conformity and the head of some entity, maybe even IBM.  His ideology spill sounds almost Hitler like as his minions look on, which makes whatever he’s saying daunting.  The blonde woman slings the sledgehammer at the screen, destroying it with a bang of blue light.  This would have us believe the end to conformity, and the start of something original.

The ad especially appeals to the tech savvy apple fan.  Most Apple fans would see this commercial and be excited about it, and then rush out and buy the product once available.  Apple’s “1984” ad target audience wasn’t just the apple fans, but every man, women, and child in America.  People really didn’t know what Macintosh even was by watching the ad.  It was a mystery product that had everyone wondering on January 22nd, 1984, what this product was.  The main appeal of the ad was its pull on American’s curiosity.

The ad “1984” uses a unique sales pitch.  It doesn’t necessarily tell us in words exactly what the product is, or shows us an image of the product.  It makes us wonder what Macintosh is and what is going to be released on January 24th, 1984.  Someone seeing the commercial on January 22nd during the Super Bowl might wait and wonder for the next two days in anticipation.  The ad uses an approach of making it seem the Macintosh is going to be the most important product of 1984.  This marketing strategy is still used today by Apple on many of their products.

The ads design is brilliant.  It uses an industrial setting as if taking place in some dull grey and blue corporate headquarters.  The lone heroine represents the coming of something different versus the large evil corporation of conformity.  This was a good idea to appeal to the customer that wanted something different than what was currently available in the computing world.  Another good design idea was to shoot the ad to look like a clip of a movie, which had never really been done before.  This approach was very effective at getting attention, as well as airing it during the Super Bowl.

The ad “1984” had a huge culture impact.  According to, the Super Bowl ad craze all started in 1984, when Apple Computers introduced the Macintosh.  Ted Friedman writes from, Electric Dreams:  Computers in American Culture:

The ad garnered millions of dollars worth of free publicity, as news programs rebroadcast it that night.  It was quickly hailed by many in the advertising industry as a masterwork.  Advertising Age named it the 1980s’ Commercial of the decade, and it continues to rank high on lists of the most influential commercials of all time […] “1984” was never broadcast again after the Super Bowl, adding to its mystique.

Along with many praises of the commercial there have also been many parodies of the ad.  There have been cartoons, video games, and even presidential campaign ads.  A Barrack Obama supporter redid the ad on called, “Vote Different,” with Hillary Clinton as Big Brother.  The heroine was wearing an Obama shirt, and the end being a big “O” instead of an apple.  The ad “1984” not only appealed to the tech nerd culture, but to everyone as a whole.

The logic behind Apple’s ad “1984” was to use the old good vs. evil theme.  I think the ad goes over the top by putting what I think to be IBM, in such a bad light.  This however was very effective to its audience it was trying to reach.  Being an individual instead of a minion and follower was a strong statement to make in this ad.  I think using such dreary characters made this statement more enticing to people.  Good prevailing in the sense of the heroine destroying the screen was the ads most powerful message.  This message made people believe that Apple’s new product was going to be better than anything offered by the opposition.

Apple’s ad “1984” was a masterpiece commercial.  It captured American’s imagination of what Macintosh was.  According to the Macintosh became the first commercially successful computer to offer a Graphic User Interface (GUI).  Someone buying this product would no longer have to interface with the computer using text instead they would use images.  As intriguing as this sounds majority of people in 1984 would not have known what GUI was, hence the reason why I believe Apple’s ad was geared more towards shock and awe.  The ad “1984” went hand in hand with the product it sold.  Both the ad and the Macintosh were very successful, and effected American culture today.


 Works Cited

Seancollier.  “1984 Apple’s Macintosh Commercial”.

Youtube.  December 12, 2005

June 11, 2010 <;


Appleinsider Staff.  “Visionary behind Apple’s ‘1984’ advertisement steps down”.

AppleInsider.  October 30, 2009

June 11, 2010       <;


Lauer, Carrie.  “Super Bowl commercial recap”.  January 29, 2001

The Post Ohio U.  June 11, 2010 <>


Friedman, Ted.  “Electric Dreams:  Computers in American Culture:  Chapter Five:  Apple’s 1984”.

Tedlog.  Friedman, Ted.  February 27, 2005

June 12, 2010 <>


ParkRidge47.  “Vote Different”.

YouTube.  March 05, 2007

June 12, 2010 <>


“Apple Macintosh”

June 12, 2010 <;



About jmm0592

I am from Lakeland, FL. I am married with two kids. I've been in the military since 2002, which led me to Kansas. I worked on Signal Communications for 5 years in the Army on older Vietnam era Small Extension Nodes, Line of site Antennae, Radios, and fiber optics and cable installing. I switched career fields to Unmanned Aircraft back in 2007 in the Army. I separated from Active Duty and have been a student at Kstate since Spring 2011. I am a UAS major.
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