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Apple Ideas

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Ideas drive life. If a company has an undesirable image, the quality of the product matters very little. For example, the lasting impression given to consumers about Apple Computers from its famous "1984" Super Bowl commercial was an aggressive one at best. A girl dressed starkly different from every one else rushes through a group of clone-like humans to destroy the source of the Orwellian nightmare. At a time when society was afraid of computers, this commercial had a brilliant effect on viewers. The commercial's tagline, "Why 1984 won't be like 1984" inspires confidence in Apple Computers as the leader of a revolution against the controlling PC. But after time, this image stopped doing Apple credit. Once computers were more accepted in general, the aggressive image became a negative one, and Apple needed a new idea associated with its product; no one wanted to be a part of a company viewed as aggressive and over-zealous because they would be viewed the same way. In 1997, Apple launched its "Think Different" Campaign, glorifying the unique minds that changed the world. Apple Computers' five-year "Think Different" Campaign appeals to consumers from all backgrounds because it sends an entirely new message about how to think about computers and who should use them.

On the surface, "Think Different" is simply a tribute to those unique minds that changed the world; delving deeper, however, something else becomes obvious. The ad calls for consumers to "think different" about how to use computers. To be more specific, Apple Computers wants the general public to be aware of one word in its advertising: simplicity. This may seem to be stretching a bit, but step back a moment and take a look at the advertisement. Simplicity exudes from this commercial in everything down to the way it is edited. Short black and white clips of people known for their distinctiveness and their contributions to this world matched to calm and uncomplicated instrumental music are then placed under a voiceover illustrating the importance of these people. The clips just cut from one to the next; there are no fancy transitions to distract the viewer, and there definitely are not any special effects or enhancements. The old film look of all clips brings the viewer back to a time when everything was easier. While the ad does not come out and attest to the simplicity of Apple Computers, it works hard to establish that idea in prospective customers' minds in the way that the commercial was created.

The ad also works to instill in consumers' minds the idea of superiority. The selection of people used in the ad appeals to consumers' impulse to compare themselves to others. Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martha Graham, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are all people that are looked up to, put on pedestals. One could go so far as to say that many think these people to be superior people. Who in their right minds would not want to be considered superior along with all the people present in the "Think Different" ad? What is Apple doing then, by associating the company with these people? Appealing to human nature. If Apple can associate itself with the idea of superiority, consumers wanting to be superior themselves will in turn associate themselves with Apple by buying an Apple product.

This idea of superiority attracts more and more people as personal wealth grows. In the nineties there was a great increase in personal wealth, and therefore an increase in the amount of people that could spend more money on personal computers. As Macintosh computers carry a higher price tag than any comparable PC on the market, they were not easily marketed to the masses. With the rise in personal wealth, Apple could expand its market from just businesses to homes everywhere. People with increased wealth wanted a reason to jump one step ahead of their neighbors, and in the field of personal computers, Macintoshs were an avenue to do that.

Just one look at any Apple product and anyone can see that it was meant to embody vague concepts such as nonconformity, ingenuity, and artistry. No other hardware company can claim that they have a sleek, all-white laptop with diamond-like durability, or a tiny camera built into a streamlined, silver laptop with abilities that rival any desktop computer. The Apple product embodies these concepts because those are the concepts with which they were originally made. The intuitive nature of the Macintosh operating system reflects the natural human urge to be independent. Who needs those manuals? And that little iBook on your desk Ð'- what if anything happened to it? More than a nuisance, it would be a true loss. Something about that laptop reminds one of a cartoon character, or maybe even a comforting friend Ð'- alive, at any rate.

Leaving that concept for a moment, consider how ideas drive the consumer market. "Think Different" targets consumers new to Apple's Macintosh platform by changing their opinions of Apple and Apple's existing customers. "Macintosh [Ð'...] advocates have established a reputation for acting like raging religious zealots" (Tsai), and naturally, that would be enough to keep the average computer-user running from the company. So Apple releases an intelligently designed commercial that forces its audience to look at these crazy Mac-users in a different light. The ad is a slide show comprised of images of people such as Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martha Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr.; people who were not afraid to break out of the norm to make some lasting imprint on this world, and who are therefore respected. Subtly, it equates Mac-users with these amazing people in the words, "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels [Ð'...] We make tools for these kinds of people. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius" ("Think Different").

This campaign works really hard to establish this high-class, inspirational idea; it works so hard, in fact, on the ideas that only one sentence in the entire sixty-second commercial even references the company. The delicacy with which the ad handles this is what will actually squeeze its way into the minds of the average consumer because it is so different from the perceived attitude of Apple Computers. "Eventually, public perception of Apple may change from Ð''troubled computer-maker' to Ð''recognized pioneer and innovator'" (Tsai). Soft music, inspirational words, and an overall peace in the ad inspires a confidence in Apple that is much different from the confidence created by the 1984 commercial: originally, consumers needed to understand that computers would not turn the world into an Orwellian nightmare, and now



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