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Macintosh Defeats Big Brother

One of the 20th century’s most significant works of literature, George Orwell’s 1984 has always been more than a literary marvel—it was a cryptic prediction, too. So, when Apple Computer chose to channel the novel as inspiration in Macintosh’s 1984 Super Bowl launch, the ad became an instant success.

The one-minute-long spot, created by Chiat\Day, opens with an Orwellian dystopia. The dismal environment consists of looming screens, zombie-like marching men and masked “thought police” chasing a mysterious running woman.

As the commanding voice of “Big Brother” gives a speech about “purification directives” the woman sprints with a mallet towards a large projection screen. With three spins and a powerful grunt, she flings the tool at the projected face, causing a notable explosion. The ad ends with the line “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” It’s often referred to as the first example of expert utilization of the prime timeslot, setting a new standard for Super Bowl ads.