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IT'S BEEN A DECADE SINCE THE MAC WAS INTROduced with that young woman's homage to Thor, throwing a metaphorical monkey wrench in the works of Big Brother Blue, and Apple advertising has, unsurprisingly, mellowed considerably over time. In recent years Apple has taken a more accessible user-friendly ad approach with, for example, commercials that featured befuddled businessmen attempting to decipher the technical mumbo jumbo of a competitor's product. In 1993 it launched Powerbook with a "real-people" TV campaign that, among other things, showed grandpa writing his memoirs on a laptop.

However, with the international launch of the new Powermacs and their Power PC microprocessors, Apple seems to have gone back to its futuristic roots, though this time all is sweetness and light-IBM, after all, is a co-developer of the Power PC chip. A new series of European-based commercials takes a more "goofy, sci-fi" approach, according to BBDO/Los Angeles executive creative director Steve Hayden, one that "recalls those college dorm experiences where you'd stay up late and watch horrible, cheesy B-movies."

A mix of b&w footage from old low-budget flicks and corporate sales films and Bomb Factory creative director Mark Fenske's sardonic voiceover (his voice will run in England only; other European markets will use local voices), the series of 10 :30s was created jointly by BBDO/LA and CLM/BBDO/Paris and directed by Bob Grigg through Smillie Films, Los Angeles.

Each commercial opens with Fenske deadpanning "The future ..." In one he continues, "the highway of the future will have no speed limit" as an elegant couple cruise down a high-tech superhighway past a blue-tinted Jetsonesque skyline; the footage of the couple was taken from a '50s GM sales film. A second spot that borrows bargain-basement flying footage from "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is backed by, "People have imagined all sorts of interesting ways to get around." And a third that features clips of robots performing various tasks, taken from a 1930 World's Fair film, includes the VO, "A place where you imagined powerful technology would be almost human." The tag on all spots: "Power Macintosh is here. The future is better than you expected.

Unlike the seriousness of "1984," this time the idea was to "have fun and be spontaneous" when thinking about the future, explains Susan Westre, who with Chris Wall in BBDO's Paris office acted as the campaign's co-creative directors. Similarly, the music, created by Los Angeles-based Ear to Ear, is meant to have a "first-take feel," according to composer Brian Banks, who used old microphones to achieve a '60s TV theme song kind of sound in many of the spots.

Hayden says there are no plans to run this TV campaign here, as Apple is aiming at two distinct markets; in Europe it's merely attempting to revitalize its name, while in the U.S. there is the more specific task of targeting serious computer users.

Additional credits to art director Nicolas Verdeu and copywriter Thomas Reichlin Meldegg of CLM, as well as executive producer Shelley Eisner, producer Adrian Cummings and editor Dan Swietlik of Swietlik, Hollywood.u

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