Today in Apple history: Super Bowl Mac ad airs against the odds

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1984
Apple's greatest commercial in history.
Photo: Apple

January 22: Today in Apple history: Super Bowl Mac ad airs against the odds January 22, 1984: Apple’s stunning “1984” commercial for the Macintosh 128K airs on CBS during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII.

Probably the most famous TV ad for a computer in history, the commercial is directed by Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott. It very nearly didn’t air, though.

Today in Apple history: Sequel to ‘1984’ Mac ad bombs hard

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The
The "Lemmings" ad was a massive disaster for Apple.
Photo illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

January 20: Today in Apple history: Apple's 'Lemmings' advertisement, sequel to groundbreaking '1984' Mac ad, bombs hard January 20, 1985: Apple attempts to build on the triumph of the previous year’s “1984” Macintosh commercial with another Super Bowl ad.

Called “Lemmings,” the ad for a new business platform called Macintosh Office depicts blindfolded executives marching to their doom. The widely reviled ad will go down in history as one of Apple’s biggest stinkers.

Today in Apple history: Mac’s ‘1984’ ad debuts in theaters

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1984
Before it won the Super Bowl, Apple's iconic Mac ad invaded theaters.
Photo: Chiat/Day/Apple

January 17: Today in Apple history: Mac's '1984' ad debuts in theaters January 17, 1984: A week before its famous airing during Super Bowl XVIII, Apple’s iconic “1984” ad debuts as a trailer in movie theaters.

To hype its revolutionary new Macintosh computer, Apple buys several months of promotion from theatrical ad distributor ScreenVision. Cupertino’s sci-fi-tinged “1984” spot — which depicts a sledgehammer-wielding freedom fighter taking on a Big Brother figure supposed to represent IBM —
gets such a favorable audience reaction that some theater owners continue to roll the ad after Apple’s contract ends.

The 10 best Apple ads of 2020

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Damien Chazelle
Apple produced some spectacular ads this year.
Photo: Apple

Apple makes great phones, tablets, computers and smartwatches. It also makes superb commercials — and has done so for years.

What was the cream of this year’s Apple advertising crop? Check out our top 10 picks (in no particular order) below.

Today in Apple history: World gets a chance to test-drive a Mac

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Apple's innovative
Apple's innovative "Test Drive a Macintosh" ad campaign urged potential customers to take a Mac for a spin.
Photo: Apple

November 8: Today in Apple history: Test-drive a Mac November 8, 1984: When initial Mac sales prove disappointing, Apple CEO John Sculley dreams up the “Test Drive a Macintosh” campaign to encourage people to give the revolutionary new computer a chance.

While 200,000 would-be Apple customers take advantage of the offer, Apple dealers absolutely hate it.

Today in Apple history: ‘Here’s to the crazy ones’ who ‘think different’

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The Apple
Do you remember when Apple told you to think different?
Photo: Apple

September 28: Today in Apple history: Apple 'think different' television commercial says 'here's to the crazy ones' September 28, 1997: Apple debuts its iconic “Think different” television commercial, aligning the troubled computer company with some of history’s most celebrated freethinking rebels.

The most famous tagline in Apple history, “Think different” doesn’t just articulate how Cupertino differs from its competitors. It also highlights how Apple, under the leadership of Steve Jobs, will forge a future far different from its floundering, money-losing days of the early 1990s.

Today in Apple history: Apple fan Jerry Seinfeld joins the dark side

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Microsoft ad
"What's the deal with bad advertising?"
Photo: Microsoft

August 21: Today in Apple history: Jerry Seinfeld appears in failed Microsoft ads August 21, 2008: Microsoft recruits comedian Jerry Seinfeld for a series of ads. It’s a naked attempt to shake the company’s reputation as a stodgy oldster (as opposed to Apple’s trendsetting hipster image).

Microsoft pays Seinfeld a reported $10 million for the ads. However, thanks to the Mac’s appearance in virtually every episode of Seinfeld over the years, the comedian remains the world’s most famous Apple fanboy.

Today in Apple history: It’s time to ‘Think different’

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Think-Different
And just like that, a catchy slogan turns into an earworm.
Image: Apple

August 8: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs introduces new Apple new slogan, Think different August 8, 1997: At Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs introduces the world to Apple’s new slogan, “Think different.” The catchy marketing reassures fans that Apple is exiting its mid-1990s dark age and once again making products customers will love.

It’s the beginning of Apple’s most iconic advertising campaign since the original “1984” Macintosh ad.

5-hour iPhone commercial and other Apple ads win awards

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Latest Shot on iPhone video is a stunning 5-hour tour through Russia's State Hermitage museum
This is the longest Apple ad in history. By, well, at least five hours.
Photo: Apple

Several Apple ads from the past year won awards at the U.K.’s long-running Design and Art Direction awards. D&AD is a British educational charity that promotes excellence in design and advertising. In this year’s virtual-only awards, it gave various Pencils (the name of charity’s awards) to what it thinks are Apple’s best promotional spots of the year.

You can check out the prize-winners — including a 5-hour, 19-minute iPhone commercial — below.

Today in Apple history: Paul McCartney is unlikely star of iTunes ad

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An vividly animated Apple ad showcases Paul McCartney's
An vividly animated Apple ad showcases Paul McCartney's "Dance Tonight."
Photo: Apple

June 14: Today in Apple history: Paul McCartney iTunes ad features Dance Tonight June 14, 2007: Paul McCartney sings his new song “Dance Tonight” in an iPod + iTunes ad, the latest in a series of spots starring music industry legends.

The new animated ad signifies a thawing of the icy relationship between Apple and McCartney, whose original band The Beatles has been locked in a legal battle with Cupertino for decades.