The 9 Best Apple Commercials of All Time

Over its 30-year-plus history, Apple has had a string of wildly successful products, including the Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. And while the long lines that inevitably appear outside Apple Stores every time the company announces a new product may create the impression that these devices sell themselves, in reality, Apple works hard to market its products through carefully crafted advertising campaigns.

One of Apple’s latest commercials made its debut during the 2015 Oscars. As seen above, the advertisement features student filmmakers using Apple’s iPad Air 2 to create their film projects. According to Apple, the narration in the advertisement was derived from a commencement speech that Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese gave to the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Class of 2014. On a special page dedicated to the making of the advertisement, the company highlighted all the various Apple hardware and software tools that were utilized to create the television spot.

While it’s unclear if Apple enlisted the help of an outside ad agency for this particular commercial, sources that spoke with Bloomberg last year claimed that Apple’s dissatisfaction with longtime ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day led the company to bolster its in-house commercial production efforts. Apple “may need to start a search for a new agency,” wrote SVP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller in an email sent to Cook and obtained by the Wall Street Journal.  “We are not getting what we need from them and haven’t been in a while.”

Apple’s emphasis on making sure that its advertising remains effective and relevant has resulted in the creation of some especially memorable commercials over the years. In our humble opinion, here are nine of Apple’s greatest commercials in the order that they were released, from newest to oldest.

9. IPad Air 2 “Reveal”

In 2013, Apple showed off the “dramatically thinner” 7.5-millimeter iPad Air through a clever ad that hid the device behind a pencil until the final moments of the commercial. In 2014, Apple made the iPad Air 2 even thinner at 6.1 millimeters. So how do you show off a new device’s even thinner profile while still referencing the previous ad? Apple showed us how with this iPad Air 2 “Reveal” commercial.

8. IPhone 5S “Dreams”

While mobile phones may have started as simple communication devices, Apple’s “Dreams” commercial for the iPhone 5S demonstrates just how far mobile technology has come. In the commercial, people are shown using the iPhone 5S for tasks ranging from measuring wind speed to translating languages.

7. IPad Air “What will your verse be?”

Martin Scorsese’s narration of the latest iPad television spot is not the first time Apple has borrowed a celebrity’s speech for one of its commercials. In early 2014, Apple released this iPad Air commercial that features a speech Robin Williams delivered when he was portraying an inspirational English teacher in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society. Already powerful, the commercial gained additional poignancy after Robin Williams committed suicide in August 2014.

6. IPhone 4S/Siri “Date Night”

In 2011, Apple introduced its voice-activated personal assistant Siri as part of iOS 5 and as a preinstalled feature on the iPhone 4S. Soon afterwards, Apple launched a series of commercials that showed various celebrities such as Zooey Deschanel and Martin Scorsese getting Siri’s help to complete their daily tasks. Our personal favorite from this advertising campaign is this 2012 ad that features Samuel L. Jackson getting ready for a date night.

5. Original iPhone “Hello”

Eight years ago, Apple announced its entry into the mobile phone market with this teaser television ad. Appropriately for a spot that first aired during the 2007 Oscars, the commercial consists almost entirely of various famous movie scenes that feature people saying, “Hello.”

4. Mac “Get a Mac”

Apple took direct aim at its Windows-powered rivals in this well-known ad campaign that ran from 2006-2009, according to Ad Week. The commercials feature John Hodgman and Justin Long as human representations of a PC and Mac computer, respectively. Hodgman is portrayed as stuffy and inept, while Long plays a laidback and fun character. Like many of Apple’s other iconic advertising campaigns, this series of commercials has been widely parodied, as highlighted by Gizmodo.

3. IPod “Silhouette”

This memorable advertising campaign that features dancing silhouettes in front of brightly colored backgrounds kicked off in 2003, according to The Pop History Dig. As seen above, the first television spot featured The Black Eyed Peas and their song “Hey Mama.”

2. “Think Different” campaign

While many of Apple’s commercials are focused on a particular product or service, others try to convey a broader message about the company’s brand. One of the most effective ads that fall into the latter category was a video montage of famous innovators that became known as “The Crazy Ones” commercial. Narrated by actor Richard Dreyfuss, “The Crazy Ones” was the first commercial approved by Steve Jobs after he returned to the company in 1997, as noted by Low End Mac. While several different versions of the commercial were later made, the above video is the original ad that aired in late 1997.

1. Original Macintosh “1984”

Any list of Apple’s greatest commercials would be incomplete if it did not include the company’s iconic “1984” commercial that announced the original Macintosh. Directed by Ridley Scott and shown during Super Bowl XVIII, the commercial became an instant classic and helped cement Apple’s reputation as a revolutionary underdog in the computer industry. The commercial, which borrows concepts and imagery from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, is still widely considered one of the best advertisements ever made.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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