The History of Funny Ads | Apple MacBook Air
What’s your favorite commercial? I bet it’s a funny one.
On the narrow list of universal languages — is laughter. And if you haven’t noticed, today’s advertisers are producing more comedic campaigns than ever before. In this post, we’ll look back and discuss the famous 2008 Apple MacBook Air commercial, and how it sparked a successful parodic ad from one of their largest competitors.
In 2008, Apple disrupted the laptop industry when it released the MacBook Air, the world’s thinnest laptop at the time. The 13.3-inch laptop measures 0.16 inches at its thinnest point and only 0.76 inches at its thickest point. To spread the word, Apple did what Apple does. For the first official MacBook Air commercial, they demonstrated product compactness by showing the laptop fits inside a plain manilla envelope.
Per usual, Apple effectively educates and hooks its viewers. Within 30 seconds you already know you’ll go broke buying it. However, soon after the commercial first aired — Lenovo — one of Apple’s largest competitors, clapped back with a parodic ad for their ThinkPad X300 commercial. In it, they highlight Apple’s idea to ditch vital hardware features in order to achieve the ultra-thin design. And of course, all the extra dongles you’ll need.
Sacrificing functionality for design, Lenovo saw an opportunity to both expose the MacBook’s flaws and showcase the ThinkPad X300. The ad closes by showing that the X300 is thin enough to fit in a similar manilla envelope, even with all of the added components that Apple removed. Thanks to the familiar parodic tone, viewers can clearly distinguish the advantages of the X300 over the MacBook Air. Clever.
“A parody often leverages elements of irony in that multiple interpretations are possible. An audience member must engage in a complex interpretive act — using cues such as comic intonations or the use of verbal or visual hyperbole — to understand the properly facetious meaning.”
I love this quote — it makes me hard for advertising. So for what it’s worth (and because I’m writing on one), I whipped up my own MacBook Air commercial with a slight twist!
What are your thoughts on parodic ads? Discuss in the comments.
- Michelle & Harper Roehm | Journal of Consumer Psychology | Consumer Responses to Parodic Ads: 1 (2014) 18–33
- Luke Dormehl | Cult of Mac | https://www.cultofmac.com/522973/macbook-air-worlds-thinnest-notebook/