10 Apple Ads To Show How The Brand Has Evolved Over The Years
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” — Steve Jobs
Just over 44 years ago, in 1976, three young men decided to create a truly personal computer. They had no idea that this dream of theirs would change the world. They are recognized as one of the most iconic brands present in the world today, Apple.
I have been an Apple customer since 2013, which is close to 7 years now. I have had the opportunity to walk the Apple mile and back many times over. Having abundant product knowledge and knowing the brand inside-out would normally be an advantage for me. Well, probably not in Apple’s case. It could turn out to be a hindrance.
You must be wondering why?
What more can they offer? How much reinvention is required?
Here is exactly where I have been constantly surprised. They have put out such great advertisements over the years and come up with great innovations each time around. As a mainstay, among top ranking global brands and synonymous with innovation, Apple’s faithful following is attributed to spot-on marketing and acclaimed advertising. Through these commercials is where the dynamic evolution of the company can be witnessed.
Let’s take a look at some of the most impactful advertisements in Apple’s history, exploring how they have each left a lasting imprint on their audience, along with constantly evolving their product offering.
#1) (1984) — “1984”
This ad was created back when Apple was considered an underdog against the Big Blue of IBM. The ad was showcased during the 1984 Super Bowl and directed by Ridley-Scott.
It completely revolutionized the way people looked at personal computers. Although, initially the Board of Directors hated it, it ended up selling over 72,000 computers within 100 days. What are the lessons learned here?
This ad took advantage of three things the public was aware of:
- “1984" the book
- Ridley Scott
- The Super Bowl
Personally, I love the fact that they packed all this with a call-to-action message which stated, “On January 24th, Apple computer will introduce Macintosh, and you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”
#2) (1997) — “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”
The ad first launched as part of Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. This black and white commercial aligned the brand with internationally recognized revolutionaries. It also marked the year Steve Jobs returned to Apple and ramped up the battle against IBM.
IBM had then announced a “Think” slogan, to which Apple responded and released the “Think Different” campaign.
The commercial features some rebels and leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Dr. Martin Luther King, Muhammed Ali, Bob Dylan, and Picasso. It honours them for being “crazy” and generating progressive ideas, along with world-changing efforts.
This would probably qualify as one of my favourite Apple ad campaigns. It is sentimental, short and memorable. It helps Apple users feel different and probably better than others (Just my occasional poke at Android users).
#3) (1998) — “Un-PC”
Right after their previous ad campaign attack on IBM (Think Different), Apple introduced a new commercial called “Un-PC”. This campaign manifested the dislike towards IBM and hits out at potential competitors for being “complicated”.
The stylish and colourful Mac looked like a strong case competing with grey Windows-based PCs. Jobs had famously lashed out at Microsoft for having “absolutely no taste”.
I think this ad in its time made a lot of sense by using smart comparative advertising techniques. This helped Apple identify their competitive advantage and then claim their superiority with their competitors.
#4) (2003) — “Silhouette”
We all remember Apple iPods right? Apple’s iPod took a few years to be the success story it was. Apple’s ad campaign for the iPod in 2001 was rather forgettable and uncool.
However, with this commercial they used stylish silhouettes, and showcased them dancing to the tunes of an original song by the Australian Band Jet — “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”
I also really liked the idea behind the faces and bodies being silhouetted. I didn’t feel intimidated by the cool dancers with (likely) hot bodies while watching these ads. These people could be me, you, or anyone else dancing in their room with their iPod while nobody’s watching.
#5) (2006) — “Get a Mac”
The “Get a Mac” campaign ran over a number of years and was a sustained attack on Windows-based PCs. This ad introduced John Hodgman as a PC and Justin Long as a Mac in attempts to show the difference between a typical PC and a Mac user.
The man who introduced himself as a Mac was dressed in casual clothes, compared to the stereotypical PC user in a suit and tie. Apple’s attempt to recreate this campaign in the UK never quite emulated the success of the US campaign.
I love the fact that it had almost 66 total videos as part of the campaign, and featured the repetition of the line “I’m a Mac…and I’m a PC”. This call-to- action clearly exemplifies that if your product or service solves a genuine need, don’t be afraid to tell people to go out and get it.
#6) (2009) — “There’s an app for that”
Apple revolutionised the whole world by introducing the massively popular iPhone smartphone. They reinforced this influence by creating the “There’s an app for that” campaign.
The commercial introduces the idea that no matter what you need, the iPhone has the potential to address it. The focus on apps turned out to be a key differentiator for Apple which helped it effectively kill competition from Nokia and BlackBerry in the ever-thriving consumer smartphone world.
What I love about this ad is that, Apple emphasizes on the usage features of their iPhone, while most people tend to overlook such concepts to advertise. They curated a list of different features of the product people would like on their smartphone and addressed those needs. It often brings up the notion that no matter what your questions, we have the answer.
#7) (2013) — “Misunderstood”
This ad is a clear example of Apple doing what they do best, storytelling. Their holiday commercial is powerful and relatable for any family, regardless of them being Apple customers or not. It’s also a slight nudge at everyone who say that having kids bury their heads in phones and tablets is worthless.
The ad focuses on a teenage boy who is engrossed with his phone more than idyllic family time during the Christmas holidays. Towards the end, he shows his family what he’s been preoccupied doing, creating a film with his iPhone to celebrate their time together.
What’s really great about this ad is the twist towards the end. In this age where sincerity is rare, Apple suggests that you can use an iPhone to create moments of deep connections.
Damn you Apple. Pulling at my heartstrings during the holidays.
#8) (2016) — “Drake vs. Bench Press”
Apple worked with Canadian rap star and Apple fanboy Drake to give us a glimpse at his comical side with their Apple Music ad campaign. Drake has extremely close ties to Apple Music. He introduced the service on stage many times before it’s launch and also sported a retro Apple jacket. He also then gave Apple exclusivity over his latest album.
In the ad, Drake waits until he’s alone in the gym before playing Swift’s “Bad Blood” on his iPhone. After dancing to the tunes in the mirror, he heads over to the bench press section. Here he underestimates just how much weight is on the bar, which eventually collapses on him. The commercial is part of Apple Music’s ongoing “distractingly good” campaign series, which previously featured Taylor Swift.
The great thing about this ad is that you get to witness the funny side to Apple’s advertising. They also try to claim huge supremacy over Spotify, their huge competitor, by stating that using Apple music is “distractingly good”.
#9) (2017) — “The Rock x Siri Dominate the Day”
Apple teamed up with Dwayne Johnson, better known as the “The Rock” to create an ad on teaching people how to use Siri every day.
The commercial sees The Rock call a Lyft ride, fly a plane to Rome, appear at a fashion show and more, all using the Siri feature on his iPhone. The Rock, who is notoriously known to have a busy schedule, enlists Siri to help him maneuver through these tasks. This is Apple’s attempt to push the voice assistant to be an active part of people’s daily lives.
Apple even went ahead to put in a caption under the ad on its YouTube page saying, “You should never, ever, under any circumstances, underestimate how much Dwayne Johnson can get done in a day with Siri”. Classic Apple stuff!
#10) (2020) — “Snap”
Apple’s latest ad campaign “Snap” focuses on the wireless AirPod Pro headphones feature — active noise cancelling technology. We get to witness how a switch between ‘transparency’ to ‘active noise cancellation’ mode helps a young woman perceive the world in a different way.
The ad sees a girl leaving class and stepping onto a busy street. Overwhelmed by the noise, she puts in her AirPods Pro and enables active noise cancellation mode with the flick of a button. The world around her immediately switches to a serene, neon-lit version of the exact same surroundings, as we see her dancing and enjoying herself to the beats. She constantly transitions back and forth between the two worlds as she makes her journey.
I concur with this ad as we all know that the world around us is chaotic, with noise and new information constantly competing for our attention. We need to take a step back, relax, and celebrate every single moment of it.
How better to do this?
Purchase the wireless AirPods Pro.