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A Look at Apple Advertising -- With and Without Steve Jobs

Judge for Yourself Whether It's Gotten Better or Worse Since the Passing of the Brand's Founder

By Published on . 2

Apple has been trying to find its voice in advertising and marketing since the passing of founder Steve Jobs in 2012. Here, a survey of the brand's advertising created under Mr. Jobs, and that conceived under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook, VP-Global CMO Phil Schiller and VP/Creative Director Hiroki Asai.

Use each tab below to view the timelines.


1984 (1984)

Directed by Ridley Scott, this spot is often cited as the best Super Bowl ad of all time, having redefined the big game as advertising's main stage. The ad only ran once -- why? See TBWA/MAL honcho Lee Clow tell the story of the spot to Ad Age here.


Crazy Ones (1997)

Seventeen years after 1984 launched the "Cult of Mac," Steve Jobs returned to Apple and brought the company's advertising back to Chiat. Together, they then launched the iconic "Think Different" campaign, including this memorable spot narrated by Richard Dreyfuss and starring some of history's most genius "oddballs." Steve Jobs himself could have fit easily among the group.


iPod Silhouettes Campaign (Hip Hop Spot) (2003)

To introduce the iPod, Apple and TBWA/Chiat/Day cut through the clutter with vibrant commercials and print ads that let the bright white device shine against a graphic backdrop featuring dancers' silhouettes against colorful backgrounds. The commercials also stood out for their smart choice of music and helped to launch careers of then-unknown artists like Jet, the band behind "Are You Gonna Be My Girl."


1984 Revisited (2004)

Twenty years after 1984, TBWA/Chiat/Day introduced this updated twist to the famous ad with a cameo from a hot product.


Mac vs. PC "Virus" (2006)

Mac vs. PC "Second Opinion" (2006)

This celebrated campaign out of TBWA/MAL starred Justin Long and John Hodgman as personified versions of the Mac and the PC. Their hilarious tete-a-tetes depicted Apple as the ever-cool player next to its always-flustered, technologically obsolete rival.


Mac vs. PC "Quote" (2008)

The hilarious dynamic between Mac and PC continued in brilliant display ads from TBWA/MAL that appeared in major publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.


Envelope (2008)

When it comes to product demos, Apple has long been king. One of the brand's most breathtaking examples of this was this spot showcasing the thinness of the MacBook air, with the help of an office basic.


Meet Her (2010)

Even before Google, Apple was the advertiser who seamlessly merged emotion with technology, as seen in this heartfelt spot showing the wonders of Face Time, out of TBWA/MAL.


Life (2012)

For a moment, celebrities became a part of the Apple marketing picture in spots via TBWA/Media Arts Lab starring Zooey Deschanel, Samuel L. Jackson and John Malkovich. Here, Mr. Malkovich uses Siri to help him contemplate the meaning of life.


Basically (2012)

All eyes were on Apple advertising following the passing of Steve Jobs. This campaign via TBWA/Media Arts Lab that ran during the 2012 Summer Olympics starred a Genius Bar guy giving advice to various people about Mac features and programs. They were widely panned for depicting consumers as bumbling idiots and sending Apple into an uncharacteristically lowbrow direction. Following the backlash, the ads were quickly pulled off the air.


iPad Mini Print Ads (2012)

Not all of Apple's ads struck the wrong note. These print ads out of TBWA/MAL, which earned the Cannes Grand Prix in 2012, were some of the best of the year and used the covers of the magazines on whose back pages they appeared to showcase the convenient size of the new iPad Mini.


Pencil (2013)

Taking a cue from its predecessor that introduced the MacBook Air, this spot created in-house out of Apple used a simple pencil to illustrate the slim profile of the iPad Air.


Mac Pro Trailer (2013)

The bombast of this trailer-themed ad was a fitting way to tease the new Mac Pro and its futuristic, spaceship-like bod.


Greetings (2013)

Created in-house out of Apple, this spot featured the "hello" heard round the world and charmed audiences with its simple, emotional demo of Facetime.


Misunderstood (2013)

TBWA/MAL was behind this filmic holiday ad. The moving tale starred a reticent teen who appeared to detached from taking part in his family's Christmas celebrations. Ultimately, however, he was right there all along, creating what turned out to be the best present ever.


Intention (2013)

Reportedly the result of a shoot-out between Apple in-house and TBWA/MAL --that MAL won, this design-driven film that appeared during the 2013 WWDC impressed fanboys and the ad community. It was a refreshing re-assertion of Apple's authority in the world of tech and design.


Your Verse (2014)

Apple's in-house team conceived this uplifting commercial that showed scenes of various people around the world using the iPad in clever ways, set against the uplifting soundtrack of Robin Williams' speech from "Dead Poets Society."


1.24.14 (2014)

Apple never showed up at the Super Bowl this year, after much industry speculation that it would be returning to the game for 1984 30th anniversary. Rather, it introduced this ambitious online film via TBWA/MAL, shot around the world in one day, entirely on the iPhone. Jake Scott, son of "1984" director Ridley Scott, was behind the effort.


Powerful (2014)

A cover of the Pixies classic "Gigantic" served as the backdrop to scenes of various people doing "powerful" things with the new iPhone, in this recent spot via TBWA/MAL.

Related: For Apple, Marketing Is a Whole New Game

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