Category Archives: Orwell

25 years later, advertisers miss their shot at Big Brother

Occasionally you read an insight so bright it hurts because you hadn’t seen it first yourself. That’s how we felt today reading Bill Green’s riff that the Super Bowl ads all failed because not one was as good as “1984” — the Apple TV spot that introduced the world to the Macintosh computer.

That spot was perfect. It was directed by Ridley Scott, fresh off of Blade Runner, and so shook the world when it aired in the third quarter 25 years ago that it was replayed on the evening news. “Can you believe what Apple did? It called IBM Big Brother!”

So here we are, now in that big-screen future, and we get spots about racing cars and aliens pushing TV and guys crunching chips so loudly that girls’ clothes fly off. Bill lists nine total reasons why all these ads pale next to “1984,” and his last is most plaintive: Context. “You relate to an ad based on how your life is going,” Bill says, and if ever there were an opportunity to play savior against a dystopian disastrous environment, this is it. The global economy is melting, ice caps are soon to follow, the aging population is stressing social services, intellectual property rights are being tossed, bailouts may bankrupt our grandchildren, and that’s just the news on page A1.

Maybe that’s why the latest Super Bowl ads fell flat. On the 25th anniversary of “1984,” advertisers missed a golden opportunity to offer a hopeful solution. Maybe Obama took the wind from their sails (the brand position for hope is filled). Maybe, at heart, creatives knew no current product is as inspiring as the original Mac (although we do dig that Audi). Still. Ad industry, it would have been nice if you had tried.

Read Bill’s entire rant here for enlightenment.