In a recent interview with Forbes, former Chiat/Day ad executive Steve Hayden relays a number of interesting nuggets regarding the creation of Apple's now iconic "1984" commercial.
First, and what shouldn't come as much of a surprise, Steve Jobs was heavily involved in the overall tone and creation of the ad. Hayden recalls that Jobs' memo for what the commercial should be was short and to the point, "Stop the world in its tracks."
With respect to the "Why 1984 won't be like 1984" line, Hayden explains that it came from a San Francisco writer named Gary Gussick during a brainstorming session.
While that line was initially set to be the crux of the commercial, famed ad man Lee Clow thought there should be more oomph to it.
That iconic tag line was only the beginning of the story. Initially, Gussick had just paired it with a simple image of an Apple computer. It was effective, but it wasn't going to stop the world in its tracks.
We showed the idea to Lee Clow, and he said 'It's not enough to just say that. You have to shatter the image that's in people's minds.'" Clow came up with the concept of a young woman running onto the set and throwing a baseball bat at The Dictator haranguing people on the screen.
"Shortly after that we met with Ridley Scott, who was in Los Angeles shooting Blade Runner," Hayden recalls. "
And he took one look at the board and said 'A baseball bat is far too American. If you gave her a sledgehammer to throw at the screen, it would be a more universal symbol.' Scott pointed them toward Fritz Lang's cinema classic Metropolis, and suddenly 1984 had its signature dystopian look.
Now interestingly enough, Apple's "1984" ad almost didn't run at all as Apple's board, upon viewing a cut of the ad, were none too thrilled. Apple at the time had purchased two minutes worth of Super Bowl ad time, with 60 seconds allotted to run the full "1984" ad and two 30-second spots allotted for two Mac demo commercials.
At Apple's behest, Chiat/Day's media department tried to sell off the ad time and managed to offload the two 30-second spots.
With a minute of ad time left, Apple had two options: Air the two demo spots. Or 1984.
"It came down to the close of business on Friday before the Super Bowl," Hayden recalls. The decision was, of course, to air 1984.
Who made the decision? Steve Jobs.
The full article contains a lot more behind the scenes info and is well worth checking out.
Lastly, here's some "1984" trivia to impress or bore your friends with this Sunday.
Contrary to popular belief, "1984" did not air only once. In truth, the full 60 second ad originally aired on December 31, 1983 on a TV station in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Why? So the ad would be eligible for that year's advertising awards.
Furthermore, 30-second versions of the 1-minute ad were later aired during other television programs.