A Look Back at Apple's Super Ad

Landmark 1984 Spot Smashed 'Big Brother,' Launched the Mac

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Image from the 1984 Mac Ad

Image from the 1984 Mac Ad... updated a bit. Apple hide caption

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About 130 million people are expected to watch the Super Bowl, and football is only part of the annual ritual. Companies will once again roll out all new ads and spend big money to promote products. A 30-second spot costs about $2.3 million this year.

Video: Introducing the Macintosh

Watch video Apple's 1984 Super Bowl spot

Twenty years ago, during Super Bowl XVIII, Apple Computer established a Super Sunday benchmark with a stunning commercial that is repeatedly voted one of the best of all time — even though it never showed the product.

In the ad, an athletic young woman wields a sledgehammer as she runs through an audience of automatons to smash a giant image of Big Brother... right out of George Orwell's 1984. It was Apple's way of saying the MacIntosh personal computer had arrived.

The ad was directed by Ridley Scott, of Alien and Blade Runner fame, but the copywriter was Steve Hayden. At the time he worked for Chiat/Day, the company that produced the spot. He's now vice-chairman at Ogilvy and Mather. NPR's Liane Hansen spoke with Hayden about the ad's impact.

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