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Ridley Scott thought the famous '1984' Macintosh ad was for The Beatles

1984 commercial
1984 commercial (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple's '1984' is a stunning ad and it was directed by Ridley Scott.
  • In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Scott explained how the 1984 ad came about.
  • Scott says he thought he was going to be doing an ad with Apple Records and The Beatles, not a computer company.

Arguably the most famous ad on the planet is Apple's 1984, an ad that aired during the 1984 Super Bowl and was directed by none other than Ridley Scott. It's an ad that set the ball rolling and in many ways, it made Apple a household name. And it needed it, because when Scott was approached about working on the project, he thought it was going to be for The Beatles.

The Beatles' record label at the time was Apple Records and as The Hollywood Reporter notes during an interview with Scott, he thought it was that Apple that he was being set up with. Things didn't get better when he was told about Steve Jobs, either.

His most famous ad is Apple's 1984 Super Bowl spot introducing the Macintosh computer, regarded as one of the most influential ads of all time. When the agency, Chiat/Day, pitched Ridley on directing a spot for Apple, he thought they were talking about The Beatles. "They said, 'No, no, no. Apple is this guy called Steve Jobs.' I went, 'Who the fuck is Steve Jobs?' They said, 'It's probably going to be something.'" Scott read the script and thought, "My God. They're not saying what it is, they're not showing what it is. They're not even saying what it does. It was advertising as an art form. It was devastatingly effective."

The ad went on to become one of Apple's defining moments and set it up for a battle with IBM and the rest of the PC world in a way that could only happen with Steve Jobs at the helm. To my mind, there's no doubt that this was the best Mac ad ever.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.