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Apple's "1984" ad: Rejected by the board

So the best commercial ever - literally, the best commercial ever - shows up with Ridley Scott as the director, and half the folks who see it, including Apple's board, want to give the time back to the network rather than run it.

The ad was the pride of the entire agency. They were confident that 1984 would generate a tremendous interest in not only the Macintosh, but all Apple products.

Unfortunately, Apple's board didn't concur. When the board was shown the ad, cofounder Mike Markula suggested that Apple drop Chiat/Day altogether. The rest of the board was not impressed either.

Sculley was discouraged by the board's reaction and asked Chiat/Day to sell back both the timeslots to CBS (the commercial was to air uncut during a minute spot, and an abreviated version would be aired during a thirty second spot). If a buyer could not be found, Manuals [an ad featuring a stack of manuals] would be run instead.
    -- Tom Hormby

But a few people could see the ad was great stuff and wouldn't give up:

Chiat/Day defied Sculley and only sold the thirty second spot.

Steve Wozniak, who was still friends with Jobs at the time, heard about the board's refusal to support the adfrom Jobs, who also showed it to him. Wozniak loved the ad and offered to pay for the spot personally if Jobs was unable to get Apple to air the ad.

Amazing. The ad agency ignores the CEO's instructions, and Woz the founder steps in to offer to pay for the ad out of his own pocket if they don't run it. That's so cool...

Popular history remembers successful efforts being destined for greatness from the start. But there's usually a messier story behind the scenes.

Interesting tidbit: the models who tried out for the ad were physically unable to throw the sledgehammer. They had to hire an actual competitive discus thrower to play the part. Cool. :)

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Comments (1)

What a great story. Love the videos on the MSNBC story too. It's great that the classics are available online.

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