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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 helmer 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 became 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.

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.

The promotional strategy advises people in possession of a credit card to drop into their local retailer and “borrow” a Macintosh for 24 hours. The idea is that, by the time potential customers need to return the Mac, they will have built up a bond with it and realized they can’t live without one.

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 CEO 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: ‘Misunderstood’ iPhone ad wins Emmy

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The heartwarming
"Misunderstood" earns Apple its second Emmy.
Photo: Apple

Aug 18: Today in Apple history: Apple's Christmas-themed 'Misunderstood' iPhone ad wins Emmy August 18, 2014: A Christmas-themed iPhone ad lands Apple an Emmy for “Most Outstanding Commercial of the Year.”

The prize-winning spot is Apple’s “Misunderstood” iPhone 5s ad. It depicts a silent teenager who won’t spend time with his family at Christmas because he’s too busy with his iPhone. At the end of the ad, he reveals that he’s not actually being a misanthrope. He used his iPhone and iMovie to shoot and edit a heartwarming family montage!

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.

Apple plans to squeeze even more money out of App Store

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iPhone App Store Today tab will soon include advertising
Get ready for new ads to appear in the iPhone App Store.
Image: Apple

Apple is going further into the ad business. Soon, a paid advertisment will be added to the Today tab of the App Store. And a paid link will be added to the product pages for individual applications.

These will join the Search Ads that are already included in the App Store.

Apple acting as an advertising broker is likely to be controversial because the company has taken a strong stance on targeted ads provided by Google, Facebook and others.

Today in Apple history: Martin Scorsese ad makes Siri look like a superstar

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Scorsese Siri
"Hey Siri, am I here to f***ing amuse you?"
Photo: Apple

July 23: Today in Apple history: Martin Scorsese Apple ad makes Siri look like a superstar July 23, 2012: Looking for the perfect spokesman for its new virtual assistant Siri, Apple turns to Martin Scorsese, the legendary filmmaker behind some of Hollywood’s most violent gangster movies.

The new television commercial shows the director using Siri voice commands to juggle his busy schedule. One in a string of celebrity-studded Siri ads, it ranks among the best.