Apple’s New Mac Tribute Captures Zeitgeist of Mobile Age


Thirty years ago, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced its first Macintosh computer and made advertising history when it aired its iconic “1984” television commercial during Super Bowl XVIII. The commercial borrowed its name and themes from George Orwell’s novel of the same name that described a dystopian future society ruled by “Big Brother.” The commercial portrayed Apple as a colorful runner who destroys a television monitor with an image of “Big Brother,” a character who represented IBM (NYSE:IBM), according to Steve Jobs.

Since Apple recently marked the thirtieth anniversary of the Mac with a celebratory splash page and interactive timeline on its website, many Apple watchers were anticipating that the California-based company would also commemorate its “1984” commercial by creating another big-budget Super Bowl commercial this year. However, Apple declined to relive its Super Bowl advertisement glory this year and instead went with a comparably low-key video tribute that it debuted on its website.

According to Apple, the 90-second video clip was created from over seventy hours of footage shot by fifteen separate camera crews all over the world during January 24, the thirtieth anniversary of the Mac. The footage was then edited and scored by twenty-one editors using various Apple products and computers.

Although on its surface the new Mac commercial is very different than the big-budget “1984” Mac commercial, it shared several behind-the-scenes connections to the original advertisement. For example, the new commercial was directed by Jake Scott, the son of the original “1984” commercial director, Ridley Scott. According to Apple, most of the footage used in the commercial was shot with the iPhone 5S. In collaboration with his father, Jake Scott remotely directed the various camera crews via Apple’s FaceTime. The “1.24.14” commercial can be seen below.

“There’s a sense of liberation about being able to tell these stories with this device, to explore it and investigate it — to see what the iPhone is capable of, and then to push it and stretch it,” explained Jake Scott. The advertising agency and creative director behind the original Mac commercial was also involved in the new project.

According to Apple, Ridley Scott was one of the first people that Lee Clow, the Chair and Director of TBWA\Worldwide, called when the project started. “Jake had a beautiful analogy for what he’s doing in this room. All this magic is happening around the world and he’s the conductor. He’s able to touch it and move it — to orchestrate it,” observed Clow.

Although Apple fans that were looking forward to a big-budget “2014” sequel to the legendary “1984” commercial may have been disappointed by Apple’s absence during this year’s Super Bowl commercials, the “1.24.14” short film is a fitting tribute to how the Mac and the overall use of technology has evolved since 1984. Apple’s use of the iPhone to film the project perfectly encapsulates the rise of mobile technology, while Scott’s long-distance direction demonstrates the global connections that have been enabled through the creation of the Internet. Additionally, while the “Big Brother” metaphor may have served Apple well thirty years ago, it might not make sense to revisit that idea now that the iPhone maker is one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)

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