Computers were boring contraptions for tinkerers until Apple’s revolutionary ”1984” commercial came along. Aired just once, during the ’84 Super Bowl, it showed an omniscient overlord controlling the masses until a woman rushed in and smashed the screen. The Big Brother character referred to IBM, though it now seems an uncanny harbinger of Microsoft’s Bill Gates.
Directed by Blade Runner’s Ridley Scott and designed by TBWA/Chiat/Day, the award-winning ad (it’s in the Clio Hall of Fame) almost didn’t air. ”The [Apple] board got nervous, and wanted to sell the slots back,” says Lee Clow, TBWA/Chiat/Day’s chief creative officer. Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak even offered to pay for the time themselves. Twelve years later, Jobs is back at Apple, and Clow has helped with the ”Think Different” and iMac campaigns. What’s changed? ”We aren’t kids doing whatever feels right, ” says Clow. ”We’re old guys doing whatever feels right.”