The Macintosh turns 30 this year, and with that anniversary comes a wave of nostalgia from Apple and an effort, commercially, to celebrate by doing what its marketing gurus do best: play to human emotions.
Thirty years to the day after Steve Jobs announced the Mac's debut on Jan. 24, 1984, director Jake Scott set out to commemorate that historic moment with an ad. The spot, called simply “1.24.14,” was shot entirely on the iPhone 5s and in a single day, according to The New Yorker. But, if anyone was equipped with the filmmaking DNA to pull that if it was Scott – after all, his dad Ridley is responsible for Apple's original “1984” ad, a television spot considered one of the most influential in commercial history, and named by Advertising Age the best TV ad ever made.
Apple is notable for having ads that grow alongside its products. Where the 1984 ad was bold and earth-shattering – just like Mac's debut – its 30-year successor is a calm meditation on Apple's presence in the world: an industry giant's reflection on the past. Tonally, the commercial is very similar to an Apple commercial for the iPad Air that has been making the rounds recently. In both spots, a succession of globe-spanning images play out to the delicate pulse of classical music, showing at once the breadth and depth of Apple's product line.
The new commercial shows, among other things, children controlling a robot with their MacBook, a man with prosthetic arms making eggs with his child and a group of students standing in an aquarium, iPads at the ready, observing a school of brightly colored fish. Like the iPad Air commercial, it is more about the experience people have with the technology than the devices themselves. This reflects a marketing strategy almost 40 years in the making, which encourages, above all, “Empathy: We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.”
Because one director can't be in 10 different countries at once, Scott communicated via Facetime with crews in all the different locations, who then beamed their footage from a backpack receiver to a control hub in California where it was assembled over the 36-hour production period, according to a behind-the-scenes video.
“It's exciting because it's spontaneous,” Scott said. “And that's what I love.”
Super Bowl a no-go
For such a momentous commercial, it would make sense to have an equally impactful debut. And yet the commercial wasn't released until the day after the Super Bowl, shocking many who assumed Apple would be using that as its 30th anniversary launching platform.
Speculation abounded about a Super Bowl commercial release after Apple ad man Lee Clow somewhat cryptically tweeted, “Gonna be a goodSuper Bowl. Mac's gonna be 30 :).” And yet the company didn't post the ad until the following morning, according to Forbes.
Consider it characteristic for a company that's known for subverting expectations at every turn.