Apple’s ‘1984’ Rises Again With Its Call to Resist an Orwellian Nightmare

A 33-year-old spot is relevant once more

Headshot of Alfred Maskeroni

“1984,” the Ridley Scott-directed, Lee Clow and Chiat/Day brainchild that aired during Super Bowl XVIII was a watershed moment for advertising. With its dystopian imagery, bleak symbolism and powerful message, it is required viewing and a true masterpiece.

Reconnecting to this landmark spot at this moment in our country’s history, 33 years after its original airing, is serendipitous—with news that copies of Orwell’s novel are now flying off the shelves. Depending on your socio-political circles—aka, your Facebook feed—you may or may not have entertained notions that we are suddenly living in a new Orwellian age. Unless, of course, you’re sipping from a mug filled with liberal tears.

"I think the connection of what was happening in real life in that company and what happened on the screen is so powerful."
Joaquín Mollá

In light of the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban, Apple’s Super Bowl classic is also newly relevant following comments by CEO Tim Cook that “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do”, referring to Steve Jobs’ father having been a Syrian immigrant.

The Big Brother-esque populist speech that drones on in the background of the ad is chilling:

“Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology—where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests purveying contradictory truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!”

In this Super Bowl edition of our “Best Ads Ever” series, we talk to some of the industry’s top talent to hear how the legendary spot influenced them. Joaquín Mollá, The Community’s co-founder & chief creative officer, tells Adweek, “I think the connection of what was happening in real life in that company and what happened on the screen is so powerful.”

We were hoping Apple would have something up its sleeve for this year’s game, though sources tell us the marketer won’t be airing a spot. Still, there’s never been a more apt time to revisit “1984,” the spot that changed advertising forever.

@maskeroni Alfred Maskeroni is director of video for Adweek.