Apple - Lemmings

January 20, 1985 | 1:00

Apple and Chiat/Day follow up "1984," the commercials that made Super Bowl ads what they are, with "Lemmings," another arresting assault on corporate hegemony and groupthink. A full-page newspaper ad on Super Bowl Sunday built anticipation by warning, "If you go to the bathroom during the fourth quarter, you'll be sorry."

Bold creative begat strong responses: A nationwide J. Walter Thompson survey found that "Lemmings" ranked "very high both in terms of being most liked and least liked," the Lawrence Journal-World reported afterward. Where "1984" allowed viewers to identify with the runner who smashes a Big Brother-like regime, some critics thought "Lemmings" made the people who wear suits in real life feel like they weren't invited to the revolution, as Ad Age once wrote.  

Apple's profit margins were also tightening around this time, as cheap PCs with visual interfaces undercut the Macintosh on price. In September 1985, Apple's board ousted founder Steve Jobs as president. The next year, the company moved its advertising account to BBDO/West in Los Angeles. 

Those changes were temporary, of course. Mr. Jobs became an advisor to Apple when the company bought his venture NeXT in 1996, steering the ad account back to the renamed TBWA Chiat/Day, and was named CEO again in 2000. They which went on to produce industry-leading work for Apple, which Ad Age named Marketer of the Decade in 2010.

Apple's next Super Bowl outing came in 1999 with a spot revolving around the Y2K bug ("2001").

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  • BrandApple
  • Year1985
  • AgencyChiat/Day
  • Superbowl #XIX
  • Quarter airedQ4