The Evolution Of Apple Through Their TV Commercials


apple tv commercials

You’re probably not all that familiar with Apple TV commercials, in fact when I even hear the phrase “Apple TV commercials” I get a bit squeamish imagining that the company is going to allow commercials into my precious Apple TV. Instead, we want to look at the evolution of Apple (the company) through their television advertisements. In 40 years, Apple has changed and evolved a lot from a garage start-up to the global tech beast that it is today.

In the early days of Apple things were a bit shaky and the company used a variety of well-crafted and well-placed ads that got them the exposure they needed. There could be entire books about the marketing strategies within the company, in fact, there are and you can find out about those here. But when Apple was coming of age television was still the supreme way to reach consumers, there was no such thing as “blog-oriented advertising” and “banner ads” were still in their youth. So a television commercial had to researched and then focus-grouped and focus-grouped again. A room full of swanky Mad Men sat around mammoth oak tables and decided how to do the TV spot perfectly. And then when Apple wanted their advertisements to see premium air time they had to fork over big money, which is a difficult thing for a budding company to do. But for Jobs and Woz and the rest of the Apple crew, it all worked out.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zfqw8nhUwA&w=560&h=315]
1984 Super Bowl Commercial
This was the one that started it all, and it’s generally considered one of the best commercials of all time. The only time that the 1984 commercial was ever shown on national television was during a break in the 3rd quarter of the Super Bowl. 1984 is an allusion to the George Orwell novel of the same name. The magazine Advertising Age named it the “commercial of the decade” and in 1999 TV Guide named it the “Number One Greatest Commercial of All Time”. The fact that it was only aired once only added to the mystique of the clip. The PR Agency behind the 1984 spot (TBWA\Chiat\Day) is also the same group that came up with the idea for the “Think Different” campaign.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ukr5RNEiRaI&w=420&h=315]
Industrial Revolution (1990)
The Industrial Revolution commercial is rather similar to the 1984 commercial, in fact if you watch them right next to each other, it feels like Apple might have turned into the big brother they were trying to separate themselves from. This piece came out after the company released the LC, which was the first Macintosh in color and Macs were still pretty expensive. I suppose the take-away from this piece is that you can change the world with a Mac and that you can do it cheaply.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3tBJmNcgJg&w=420&h=315]
Switch (2002)
Apple came out with their “switch” campaign in 2002. It was obviously designed to get people to switch from PCs to Apples, they were beginning to find out that they were having a problem breaking into the professional market and so they began highlighting the capabilities of Apple computers in business environments.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFiEPEWK6xY&w=420&h=315]
iPod Silhouette (2003)
The dancing silhouettes debuted with this TV spot in 2003 and was a product of Susan Alinsangan at TBWA\Chiat\Day. They had an iPod commercial before this but it didn’t do very well so they decided on the dancers.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-bodINVeK0&w=560&h=315]
Get A Mac (2006)
The Get a Mac campaign is another one of those times where Apple tried to separate themselves from PCs. There were twenty-four of these clips that were released in a few different countries and they helped spur the idea of Mac people as being “cooler” than PC people, which of course we are, right?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2MTLNfCZBQ&w=560&h=315]
iPhone 6s – Fingerprint (2016)
Apple has had a lot of trouble when they’ve tried to use fingerprint technology into the iPhone before. The new fingerprint ad is supposed to show you how much easier this little trick will make your life but we’re still holding out.

We might be close to seeing a lot more Apple advertising in the near future. Recently, Apple has seen a dip in their stocks and a few prominent and tell-tale investors have pulled out of the company. Last time they hit a rough patch (over a decade and a half ago), they plowed through it with marketing and came out even stronger. In fact, the “Think Differently” campaign was sort of a result of hard financial times for the company. Unfortunately for them, since everybody we know has an iPhone, they’ll have to come up with something a bit more creative, and their ads will have to be seen somewhere other than a television screen.

Featured Image: [Flickr/William J Sisti]

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Alex Thomas

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