|Steve Jobs and Apple invented social marketing before the terms was invented, its hardcore enthusiasts from the world of design and media gave the brand huge social currency among early adopters and style obsessives.
Apple’s advertising and visual language has always been about drawing boundaries, whether visually in its iPod dancing silhouettes, or literally in its messaging in campaigns such as ‘I’m a Mac’ where it defines itself and its competitors as personality types and visual types. From the very beginning, Apple and Jobs have used pictures powerfully to position themselves as outsiders, and their competitors as establishment, most famously in their 1984 ad, directed by Ridley Scott.
Looking at it again, this viewer realized that Microsoft wasn’t the target but IBM. And the ad, conceived by Chiat/Day and Directed by Ridley Scott bears all the visual atmospherics of a director who reinvented the visual language of sci-fi in Alien and Blade Runner. The Apple board hated the commercial and Steve Wozniak offered to pay for it personally.
Steve Jobs’ presentation makes the business battle between Apple and IBM into a contrast between Freedom and Big Blue/Big Brother which could “dominate the entire computer industry.” Not quite how it turned out, as IBM became one player among many, but the DNA of Apple marketing and its visual language can be sourced to Ridley Scott’s ‘1984’ spot. Being an outsider is now the premium brand position for any innovative tech company, enabling the idea that each new tech is upsetting the tired old order of things.
Steve Jobs not only understood the value of great advertising, but for brand whose core audience were image-makers and image users, he saw the necessity for a coherent and inventive visual language, not just in the Apple interface, or the product design but in visualizing the meaning of Apple in adverts.
Ad Age runs their 10 Best Apple Advertisements
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