Just this past week, a video surfaced that Apple did around the same time as their popular ‘1984’ spot came out. I was kind of excited to see it as I was curious to see how great it was. I mean, if it came out at the same time as ‘1984,’ it had to be a great video. After viewing just a short clip of ‘1944,’ I left disappointed, but somewhat happy to know that Apple isn’t perfect.
I’ve always loved the advertising and marketing of Apple. The advertising agencies and Apple have always pushed the envelope and have taken risks with the ads and commercials they’ve done. It started with the '1984' commercial, which I think is still as powerful and strong on message as it was over two decades ago. My next favorite campaign was the ‘Think Different’ ads Apple did. They were simple yet brilliant in showing portraits of people throughout history who thought different with the Apple logo and the line ‘Think Different’ at the bottom of the ad. The portrait ads that I remember are Alfred Hitchcock, Amelia Earhart, and Gandhi. They also featured Edison, Picasso, Jim Henson, Miles Davis, Ansel Adams, Sinatra, and Jackie Robinson. After that, I don’t remember too many campaigns until the iPod came out. By then, Apple was at the beginning of becoming what they are today: one of the top computer manufacturers in the world. Their commercials, ads, packaging, and retail stores had that simplicity of the ‘Think Different’ campaign. When Microsoft was placing stickers all over their computers and polluting their packaging with graphics and copy, Apple was clean and simple and easy to operate. But Apple isn’t perfect. They have had bumps in the road and they have created some terrible videos like ‘1944’.
I’m sure Apple never wanted this video to surface, since it obviously took so long to do so in the first place. I’m sure Steve Jobs had hired people to find every copy out there and burn them, but apparently one survived and now it’s everywhere. The video was made for an Apple sales meeting to rally the troops in competing against IBM, who at the time was the big computer manufacturer. Steve Jobs plays Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the spot with a terrible accent. The production value was decent with the black and white video and period pieces, like the military outfits and the Oval Office. But the acting reminded me of a terrible high-school theater class where the theater teacher is fired at the end of the school year. I still haven’t watched the full 8-minute and 45 second video yet. The short clip was torture enough.
I am impressed that Apple was able to keep this video under wraps and hidden away for so many years. I am also glad that it did finally surfaced as it shows that Steve Jobs and Apple, while seemingly perfect in everything they have done, did make mistakes. And now that Apple is without Steve Jobs, it will probably continue to make mistakes. But what makes Apple and other great businesses better than others is that they make many more great decisions over time than bad ones. So I will give Apple a mulligan for ‘1944’ and hope that there aren’t any sequels that surface.
Aaron Whitaker is a copywriter, blogger, and social media aficionado who likes watching the TV commercials more than the actual shows. He prefers reading the magazine ads over the articles. And you can learn more about him online right here.