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Apple at the Super Bowl – from ‘1984’ to Rihanna

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Super Bowl LVII was a hugely entertaining affair, and marked Apple’s first year as sponsors of the Halftime Show as the company took over from Pepsi in a five-year deal. 

Rihanna’s performance (and pregnancy) may have stolen the headlines, but Apple made sure to plaster the Apple Music logo anywhere it could. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s enough to boost the numbers of Apple’s music streaming service, which still lags behind Spotify when it comes to subscriber numbers.

But Apple’s relationship with the Super Bowl goes back way further, having placed some memorable ads over the years – none more iconic than its legendary ‘1984’ Super Bowl commercial. We figured now was as good a time as ever to revisit the minute-long video, or watch it for the first time if you’ve never seen it before.

1984 Apple Macintosh Commercial

The commercial, inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, was directed by Ridley Scott of Alien fame and aired during Super Bowl XVIII in the year – you guessed it – 1984.

It shows a crowd of bald, brainwashed men absorbed by an overbearing, ominous speech from a Big Brother-esque figure on a huge screen. An athletic woman leads a lone uprising, escaping a chasing pack of Thought Police and smashing the screen with a sledgehammer. Then, text appears:

On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”

Steve Jobs loved it. Apple’s board of directors hated it. But the ad eventually was green-lit and became an instant legend in the tech world. At the time, Apple was something of an underdog, characterizing the ever-present IBM as a monopolistic villain. The message, essentially, was: down with conformity, let’s embrace originality. Buy a Mac to empower your creativity!

Fast forward 39 years and some would say the iconic has become the ironic, with Apple as big today as IBM was in 1984. It would certainly be hard for Apple to pull off a similar sentiment now – though with four more years of Super Bowl sponsorship to come, here’s hoping for something equally memorable in the near future.