Recently, I went back and took a look at all the best iPad commercials over the past 10 years, and I even talked about my favorite iPod ads, and it was really cool to see how Apple has positioned its products (and its brand at large) with these ads. Long before the iPad and the iPod, though, Apple was making some huge ads to sell Macs and build up their brand.
From iconic ads that ran during the Super Bowl to the simple TV spots that we remember years later, here are some of the greatest Apple advertisements of all time.
Two Kinds of People (1983)
This ad is sometimes forgotten by people, probably because the Apple Lisa Computer (which was featured in this ad) wasn't nearly as popular as the Macintosh that came out the year after. The ads central messaging would set the stage for Apple advertising for years to come. The narrated line that reads "Soon there will be just two kinds of people... those that use computers...and those that use Apples." really is when Apple started pushing for its own identity within the emerging world of personal computing. Plus, a young Kevin Costner appeared in this ad, which is pretty fun to see.
1984 Superbowl Ad
This is the classic Apple ad that immediately jumps to mind for most people. This commercial was directed by acclaimed director, Ridley Scott, and launched during the 1984 Superbowl.
Once again, Apple positioned itself as a company against the masses forging its path, this time using a super dystopian and futuristic setting. This ad still gives me chills every time I watch it.
Apple II (1986)
While this ad may not be as iconic as some of the other ones mentioned, the Apple II was an essential machine in Apple's history. It had a lot of different iterations, but in this 1986 ad for the Apple II, it focused on just how great Apple computers were for kids.
Macintosh Quadra (1991)
This slightly subversive ad looks and feels like a car commercial at first before the camera zooms out and reveals the computer. It's a simple, short, and effective ad.
Macintosh PowerBook (1991 - 1992)
One of my personal favorites, Apple managed to get legendary basketball player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in one of its ads. It's a short and sweet ad, filled with a chuckle-worthy glare from the insanely tall Kareem trying to fit in coach. Good thing, his Macintosh PowerBook can go anywhere!
Macintosh vs. Ordinary PC (1993)
The spiritual successor to the iconic 2000s series of ads (which we will talk about later), the Macintosh vs. Ordinary PC had a simple message — "It does more. It costs less." Once again, Apple was establishing itself as something different and against the grain.
One of the few times Apple directly went after Windows by insinuating their computers were slow and unintuitive. The line spoken by the dad in the commercial — "Loading CD-ROM into Windows" — bring back enough nostalgic joy that this ad is worth watching again and again.
Think Different (1997)
After the 1984 commercial, the commercial that launched Apple's Think Different campaign in 1997 is probably one of the most memorable ads for anything. This is where Apple's brand of being something special, something for the dreamers, the risk-takers, the creatives, and the move-makers became prominent. This narration in the original ad was done by Richard Dreyfuss, but there is a Steve Jobs narrated one (that never aired) that I think hits the mark a little better.
iMac G3 (1998)
As a 90s kid, who went to elementary during the late 90s/early 2000s, these iMac G3 machines were in every computer lab. The internet was also becoming increasingly huge and more consumer-oriented, so when Jeff Goldblum tells you how to connect to the internet, you better listen up.
Get a Mac campaign (2006-2009)
This campaign spanned 66 TV spots across four years and covered multiple products, and to this day, Justin Long will always be Mac to me. These very simple spots were crazy effective and set the stage for a lot of modern Apple ads. The white background, with the simple music all started in this campaign. While there were ads in the campaign before Justin Long and John Hodgman came along, it was the "Hello, I'm a Mac" spots that are so memorable. Here's a near 40-long minute video of all of them put together, because too many of the 66 ads are great, I couldn't choose which to include.
Hello - iPhone Ad (2007)
During the 2007 Oscars, Apple released the Hello ad for its upcoming launch of the iPhone. Arguably, one of the most important products in Apple's lifetime. The ad was nothing more than a teaser, with a bunch of clips from movies of actors saying Hello into phones, but it such gt the hype train rolling!
Envelope — MacBook Air Ad (2007-2008)
This simple ad designed to sell the original MacBook Air as the "World's thinnest laptop" was accompanied by an impossibly catchy tune — New Soul by Yael Naïm — got stuck in my head for ages.
iPhone 4S (2011)
This ad is just delightful. It's just John Malkovich sitting in a chair talking to Siri. It's simple, shows off what Siri was capable of doing, and made the iPhone 4S (the first iPhone I ever had) look cool as hell.
The Rock x Siri Dominate the Day (2017)
This brilliant, big-budget, and over-the-top ad was one of the funniest ads in recent memory — mostly due to the unfathomable amount of charisma Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson brings to the screen. This ad was clearly made to show vast improvements in Siri that Apple had made, transforming it from a novelty to have on your phone to a tool that you can use for just about anything.
What's your favorite Apple commercials?
There have been so many fantastic Apple ads over the years, it's really hard to narrow it down to just these on the list. Tell us what your favorite ads have been over the years in the comments down below1
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.