Not everyone prefers to use Apple products over their counterparts, but few can deny the company’s marketing prowess. Over the years, Apple has produced some of the most inspiring, funny, and interesting advertisements to ever grace our televisions and computer screens—ones that are still quoted and remembered more than a decade later.
Here are our 10 picks for the best Apple commercials of all time:
This one might come off a little preachy in hindsight, but for what’s worth, I can’t think of a better summation of what Apple has always tried to do. The theme of empowering users to be free to create—to give people a creative power they otherwise wouldn’t have—this has always been at the core (no pun intended) of what Apple wanted to communicate. 13 years later and the message still inspires.
This newest iPad Air commercial might be one of Apple’s more pretentious commercials—but what could be more universally inspiring than Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society quoting Walt William? The awe-inspiring visuals and simmering minimalist soundtrack here are really what blew me away about this particular commercial. The video goes through a series of people’s lives—mostly creatives of course—who take their iPads and do extraordinary things with them. It might not resemble the more familiar reality of people sitting on their couches scrolling through Twitter, but it does have a certain majestic quality about it that only Apple could ever pull off.
The iPhone was a stark and dramatic departure in the tech world. A phone without any buttons? A touchscreen that you had to type on? There were a lot of questions that the world needed answers for regarding this revolutionary new product. However, perhaps the thing Apple wanted us to know first about the iPhone was that we already knew how to use it—just say “hello.”
Note: This popular ad has been copied many times, which is why it may seem very familiar.
The Photos Every Day ad for the iPhone 5 is one of the simplest, non-pushy ads Apple has ever produced—almost the antithesis of the “What Will Your Verse Be?” iPad commercial. This one just feels incredibly true—which isn’t a word I’d use to describe many commercials. The awkward selfies and people stopping to take pictures of a brick wall or the scenery on a run—these are all everyday situations you’ll see walking down the street. Apple has always been about empowering individuals—non-professionals, even—to be more creative in their daily lives. Who knew that would actually come true?
Macintosh—the “computer for the rest of us”. What did that phrase really mean? Did it mean the computer for people don’t know anything about computers? Did it mean the computer for the non-businessperson? Or was this for “the crazy ones”? The power of this slogan was that none of that really mattered—all that mattered was that you got the impression this computer was for you.
This series of commercials were significant in that they demonstrate an important understanding behind marketing: That in the end, it’s not about selling a product at all. It’s about selling an emotion—a feeling. The longstanding series of iPod “silhouette” commercials didn’t show the actual product itself in them—and they didn’t need to. Instead, they sold “cool” and “iconic”—and that was more than enough.
This newer ad is a fantastic example of a company that knows its product and its target audience incredibly well. Apple has always wanted to make products for the creatives—or as Apple sees them, “the crazy ones.” Not only does the pencil commercial reveal how incredibly thin the iPad Air is in a showy way, more importantly, it tells the consumer what the product is for—an answer to a criticism that the iPad has always been faced with.
No other commercial pushed fanboy flame wars more than the three year long “Get a Mac” campaign. It wasn’t the first time Apple tried humor, but it may have been their first successful attempt. Tackling the PC market head on, Apple put together an award-winning campaign that personified their Mac computers as the cool, laidback Justin Long and the PC as an overly-serious, Dwight Schrute type. It’s interesting to follow the campaign over the years and see how Apple treated the growth of Macs toward the end of the 2000s and certain big controversies such as Windows Vista.
Ah, yes—the one that started it all. When the original Apple commercial aired at Superbowl ‘84, the computer industry got reset on a very particular path. Directed by Ridley Scott and based on the dystopian novel 1984, this piece only aired nationally one time, but has often gone down as one of the most memorable advertisements of all time. The unnamed heroine, of course, represents the original Macintosh computer, but in many ways it represented Apple as a whole. Again, it was a matter of personal empowerment over conformity, a message that made an impression on audiences—particularly in 1984 at the height of the Cold War.
Steve Jobs was back at Apple and with this commercial, it was made clear to the whole world. Although the version with his voiceover didn’t end up as the final version, everything about the this short little poem had Jobs’ understanding of the world written all over it. It was before Apple was only concerned with bringing PC users over to Macs or selling phones. Without a mention of a single product, this monumental ad was still somehow about Apple and Steve Jobs but also about yourself and your little niece and still somehow also about Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon. It was big, controversial, and overly ambitious—a few qualities that Apple has never backed down from.