Acclaimed TV ad to introduce Mac to Russian market Apple taking on its rival, IBM

May 26, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

Apple Computer's "1984," an acclaimed television commercial that evoked images of George Orwell's anti-totalitarian novel, will be broadcast for only the second time tomorrow -- this time in the former Soviet Union.

The ad ran once in the United States -- during the 1984 Super Bowl. But its striking imagery, showing a giant televised Big Brother figure addressing the automaton-like masses in a Gulag-like setting, made it one of the most famous commercials in television history.

Back then, the ad launched Apple's marketing campaign for its Macintosh computer. Now, a modified version of the original ad, entitled "1984 Redux," will introduce the computer to Russia and other former Soviet republics. According to Apple, the ad is expected to reach an audience of more than 100 million households.

Now, as before, the ad will show a woman athlete --ing into the

gathering and throwing a hammer that smashes the giant screen that represents a world in which "all toiled under the dominance of one computer system" -- in obvious reference to IBM's DOS.

But the message that follows, as Big Brother goes up in smoke, is as much political as commercial: "Until Apple created . . . Macintosh. The right to choose. The right to think. The right to be an individual."

Apple's move into Russia represents another challenge to IBM, which has been selling its products in the former Soviet Union for many years.

Peter B. Necarsulmer, whose agency produced the revised Apple ad, said the company has built an infrastructure of more than 50 distributors throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic countries.

The Macintosh uses a different operating system from IBM personal computers and its DOS-based "clones." Apple claims its Macintosh system is more "user-friendly, thus liberating users from "a system whose inflexibility discouraged independent thought and personal creativity."

Mr. Necarsulmer, president of The PBN Co. of San Francisco, said his agency and R&R Advertising of Las Vegas tested both the original and modified ad in Russian focus groups and are confident the new version will be well-received.

The new ad retains most of the imagery of the 1984 ad but delivers an updated version of the original message in Russian. One scene, showing a fresh breeze blowing through the crowd after Big Brother is destroyed, was deleted.

Mr. Necarsulmer said he expected the ad to be controversial, especiallyamong Russians who are nostalgic for the old Communist regime.

"A big goal here is to generate attention and discussion and debate, much as the 1984 commercial did originally," he said.

The 1984 ad, created by Chiat/Day of Los Angeles, was seen by an audience estimated at 43 million. Directed by Ridley Scott, director of "Bladerunner" and "Alien," it won the Cannes Film Festival's Grand Prix Award and was hailed by Advertising Age as the "Commercial of the Decade."

According to PBN, "1984 Redux" will be the first region-wide commercial to be aired by a major Western computer company. It will be shown during the morning, noon and evening news programs on Ostankino Channel One, Vesti-All Russian State Television and the Moscow-based 2X2 Channel.

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