Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
The Disastrous Follow-Up to Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad
Friday, February 03, 2012 - 11:39 AM
It's Superbowl weekend, and for non-football fans who've been coerced into watching the game by social pressure of geological magnitude, there's always the ads to look forward to. (Although advertisers are ruining the fun by leaking their ads ahead of time.)
There's almost no chance any of those ads will have the impact of Apple's "1984" ad. That impact was summed up by our own Bob Garfield shortly after Steve Jobs died:
Yet, though for 28 years in front of advertising audiences I've declared “1984” to be the greatest commercial ever made, it wasn't until recently that I understood its central genius. And that is, it was true! Not just shrewd, not just potent or emotionally true, but literally true.
The year after that commercial, during the 1985 Super Bowl, Apple followed up that ad with it's far less successful "Lemmings" ad. It features a line of dead-eyed businessmen falling off a cliff in lock step, so great and blind is their devotion [to] boring non-Apple computing. It has the same dystopian feel as its predecessor, but, intended or not, it gives off contempt for would-be Apple buyers. It's the Stardust Memories of computer advertising.
In a Forbes article, Allen St. John writes:
What was missing from Lemmings was the girl in 1984, the savior who says ‘The world could be different than this.’ Had there been some way to have that redemption in Lemmings, there probably would have been a very different outcome.
[Note: In a copy editing disaster, 'disastrous' was incorrectly spelled in the original headline of this post. Thanks to the commenter below.]