Every year, the Super Bowl brings together not only the two best football teams, but also the very best commercials Madison Avenue has to offer. (It's still the only TV event that actually makes us want to watch commercials.) And we can trace the current era of the big-event, big-budget Super Bowl ad back to a single commercial: Apple's groundbreaking ad, "1984."
The ad, which introduced the Apple Macintosh personal computer to the buying public, ran only one time nationally, during the 1984 Super Bowl -- but it made such a huge impression, we're still talking about it. Set in a gray, dystopic future with miserable people grimly marching underneath an image of a Big Brother-like overlord, it featured a female athlete in an Apple tank top dramatically hurling a hammer into the evil overlord's image. Translation? Look out, IBM: You've got a little competition on your hands.
Film director Ridley Scott (fresh off 1982's "Blade Runner") helmed the ambitious 60-second ad, which drew its inspiration from George Orwell's gloomy futuristic novel, "1984," and cost a whopping $900,000 to produce -- an unheard-of amount at the time. Apple's board of directors actually hated the commercial, but founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak insisted on airing it anyway. And they were right: It was an instant success, helping to build Apple's brand identity as the upstart David to IBM's Goliath. (Kind of funny that we used to think of Apple as the underdog, huh?)
Twenty-eight years later, the "1984" ad is still remembered as one of the greatest TV commercials of all time, and inspired all of the attention-grabbing ads you see every Super Bowl Sunday. So along with revolutionizing our music and our phones, Apple revolutionized Super Bowl commercial breaks, too.