A Look Back: 35 Years of Apple Advertising Under Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a lot of things. A brilliant inventor, spokesman, businessman, etc. But the man also had an incredible knack for advertising.

Since its inception in 1976, Apple has evolved from an advertising embarrassment to a trend-setting company, giving other companies a marketing model to mimic and follow. Jobs’s legacy as one of the great advertisers of our age is one of the biggest impressions he left the world when he died Wednesday evening.

So let’s take a look back at the company’s humble beginnings under the direction of Jobs and see how it has evolved from a cringe-worthy “ad”olescent (<——–cute pun looking for a home) to an advertising giant.

1977: Apple Gets an Identity

Sure, this ad screams 70s all over, but it did set an important precedent for the company: it was the first time their rainbow Apple logo was used. The rainbow would later disappear in the 90s, but it still remains one of the signature Apple trademarks.

1983: You’re the Apple of My Eye

If you still happen to own one of these t-shirts, do us all a favor and please DO NOT WEAR IT. The design is so bad it’s almost brilliant. I dare say you might see some hipsters walking around today pulling off the look quite well. Regardless, it was the 80s and every brand had “a t-shirt,” if you know what I mean. But gee, looking at it now, don’t you kind of wish you could be part of that family? So much happiness going on right there.

1996: Send in the Celebrities

Simply put, this is a bad ad. Too much text, not enough info about the product, why are they standing on a rock, etc. A failed attempt to relate sports stars’ wants to consumers’. Apple would learn from their advertising mistakes, though, as they pressed on into the late 90s and 2000s.

1997: “Think Different”

An example where using celebrities works quite well. And the product doesn’t even appear in the ad. That’s what’s so great about it, in my opinion. The slogan in each picture sells the ad. Combined with the glossy Hollywood-esque photos, it’s a gorgeous example of how celebrity sells.

1998: Apple Gets Modern

A sleekly designed ad that brings out the product against a white backdrop. It’s Apple’s first ad that truly feels modern, and a similar look would be seen in Apple ads for years to come. Also, the slogan is cutesy, yet somehow perfect.

2006: Mac vs. PC

The white backdrop gets a workout with this ad campaign that ran for three years. The great everyman’s actor, Justin Long, played The Mac Guy with such charisma and sensibility that almost anyone would buy a Mac based on his face alone. It was Apple’s first great attempt at using humor, and they pulled it off terrifically.

2007 – Present: iAds

What Apple has done with their marketing strategies for iPods, iPads, iPhones and MacBooks is nothing short of astonishing. The ads are so simple and clean, it’s almost disgusting that something so seemingly effortless should be so brilliant at the same time.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any favorite Apple ads? Or maybe I should ask if any of the Apple ads have caused you to buy one of their products? That is, after all, the point of advertising. And Steve Jobs made a pretty good living out of getting people to do just that.

Thanks, Steve, for teaching the world a thing or two (or a million) about advertising.


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