January 31, 2009


I wrote a couple days ago about the groundbreaking nature of Apple's "1984" Super Bowl commercial. Today I ran across a website that will help put that in context. The website Adland has collected the commercials from almost every Super Bowl, so I've linked the 1984 Super Bowl list below, as well as a few examples to watch for perspective. Now when watching these, keep in mind that these are Super Bowl ads - ones that should be (though often aren't) the best of the best. Check out the Radio Shack - Bill Bixby ad for a typical computer launch ad from the time. And to be fair, you can also check out the IBM - Charlie Chaplin ad for yet another computer launch ad with a "higher" concept and better production values. But the Apple ad was not just a breakthrough for computer advertising, it was a breakthrough for advertising as a whole. So to broaden the perspective (because an ad is competing with all ads around it, no matter what the subject), check out a few others. Be sure not to miss the Chevrolet Camaro ad. Not only does it feature a snappy jingle and snazzy graphics, but you gotta love the creepy people with glowing Camaro-headlight eyes! I don't know what Chevy's ad people were smoking, but similar themes carry through their entire "taking charge" campaign, from the S-10 Blazer ad to the one for the Celebrity Eurosport. I still remember that "Eeeeeeeeuuuro-sport" jingle. Clearly, jingles were the thing. Check out the ads for Computerland (now there's a jingle!), Eastern Airlines, and McDonald's to help fill in a sense of the state of television advertising in 1984. Now, with those fresh in your mind, go back and watch the Apple ad again and you can truly see how 1984 was not like 1984.
  • Adland: Complete List of 1984 Super Bowl Commercials
  • Adland: Radio Shack bill Bikxby Super Bowl Ad
  • Adland: IBM Charlie Chaplin Super Bowl Ad
  • Adland: Chevy Camaro Taking Charge Super Bowl Ad
  • January 29, 2009

    seeing clearly

    I've been trying to get better about getting out and taking walks along the beach instead of just staring at it from my desk. Today I took a walk down to the pier as the sun was setting - it was one of those times that was strangely perfectly picturesque. The sun set perfectly centered on the horizon. Right above, the moon was in a bright crescent with Venus shining extremely brightly next to it. Down by the pier, a group of boats was out in the ocean with unusual lights glaring. I heard a lady passing by explain to someone that they were squid boats. They shine light down into the water at night and the squid swim toward the lights and they scoop them up in nets. Whether that's true, I have no idea. And walking back, the lights of Santa Monica and Malibu were strangely bright and clear beyond the oil tankers that rest out in the ocean near my house - you could even make out the ferris wheel. Winter in Los Angeles. This is why we live here.

    January 28, 2009


    Twenty five years ago, one of the most memorable commercials in history aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII. It was a teaser for the debut of the Apple Macintosh computer called "1984" in which a bleak, futuristic, Orwellian setting is broken by an athletic heroine representing non-conformity. Despite its landmark status today, that was the only daytime airing. But the impact on viewers led to massive amounts of free airings in news coverage afterward. (It had aired once before in Twin Falls Idaho on December 31, 1983 so that it would qualify for awards competitions, and it also aired for several weeks in movie theaters.) While often thought to be a statement against IBM's domination of the computer marketplace, Chiat/Day writers Steve Hayden and Lee Clow and Apple actually meant it to symbolize the Macintosh as a means of empowerment and originality. Ridley Scott, who had recently finished shooting 'Blade Runner' directed the spot, which was shot in England. (Local skinheads made for a perfect casting of the Orwellian population in the spot). In December 1983, Steve Jobs and Apple CEO John Sculley screened the spot for Apples Board of Directors, who hated it. Jobs supported the spot regardless, and Steve Wozniak offered to pay for the spot if the board refused. My Dad posted the spot on his blog a few days ago, and what most amazes me is how well the spot still holds up today, 25 years after it first aired. (Which makes me realize that my nephews and nieces have never lived in a world without a Macintosh. How weird is that?!) Below are links to the original ad as well as a couple other videos I found on YouTube. One is an interview with Ridley Scott about making the commercial, which includes shots of the original storyboard (though the audio is difficult to understand); and the other looks to be 'making of' footage clips probably sent out as a video press release to media organizations that someone added music to. I got my first Mac six years after this spot aired as a graduation present from Mom & Dad. I still have it.
  • Apple's '1984' Macintosh debut/teaser commercial
  • Ridley Scott interview on the making of Apple's '1984'
  • Apple's 1984 'making of' raw footage
  • January 27, 2009


    Among the changes that you may not have noticed in the change of administration is the revamped website for the executive branch. Whitehouse.gov has gone from the 90's style website to a deeper and more interactive site, but more importantly, one that was actually designed by a designer. Information is presented clearly with strong hierarchy and a strong but refined style. It takes clear clues from the Obama campaign website, from its calls to action and features, to its palette and typography. Though the campaign's signature san serif face Gotham is not used, the serifed face that was used a secondary face has now become primary. While not revolutionary, its an interesting update. And elsewhere on the web, in a similar but unrelated move, the image of the Vice President's residence on Google Maps has gone from being obscured to clear. Go figure, huh?

    January 26, 2009

    soft gets fresh

    A couple weeks ago while watching tv, among the high gloss financial and investment commercials was one that caught my attention. First off, the animation was beautiful, unique, and fun. The copy was smart, and the sound distinctive. Clearly it was a business-aimed spot, but nonetheless, it was a joy to watch. And it never mentioned a product, only ideals - until the logo at the end for Microsoft. Wait - Microsoft??? Srsly?! They're not exactly known for good advertising or design. The spots were done by design firm Imaginary Forces for ad agency JWT, and directed by Michelle Dougherty. The animation is smart and playful, feels tactile and homemade - decidedly low tech. I particularly love the sound is also done to feel low-tech, as if recorded over a phone. Its a distinctive move for a company that would never be associated with that word. Points to them for this one.
  • Imaginary Forces: Microsoft - People Ready Business
  • January 25, 2009


    We don't get rain here a lot, so when we do, its an event. But along with that is the fact that we don't get clouds a lot here. A common side effect of rain is a day after that seems to be amazingly beautiful, and sometimes that includes these amazing layers of clouds combined with simultaneous sunshine creating amazing contrasting patterns of light and dark. Its one of things that photos just don't capture in depth and scale, as well as something thats probably common a lot of places (even daily in places like South Florida). But here, its special.

    January 23, 2009

    January 22, 2009

    a few more

    A few people have asked for more pics from the inauguration. I felt like I had a million pics that all looked like the same thing, but I've tried to go through and find a few things that give a sense of the day and the crowds just to fill in the picture a little more. Also, I should mention in hindsight that it feels a little bigger now to have been there - if my comments on the night of it seemed negative, it was probably more just from the exhaustion of dealing with the crowds and the cold and the lines and traffic, but I don't regret a minute of it. Dad has a post up on his blog with pics, videos, and a better timeline of how the day went, and a summation of it all that really matches my thoughts - the comparison to the Grant Park celebration in particular. Here's the link:
  • Dad's blog: the inauguration
  • January 20, 2009

    part of it

    Wow, today was such a crazy mix of everything that I really don't know how to process it all, and I don't think I have yet. Dad and I both got less than an hour of sleep last night before trekking to West (byGod) Virginia to catch a 5am charter bus into DC. As expected, lines were long, temps were cold, and crowds were huge. The system of navigating the streets and getting into your appropriate ticketed area was a mess, as was the shuttle system. Some people on our bus had shuttle rides of 3-4 hours (for less than 2 miles) - Dad and I lucked out with ours. We eventually (and luckily) found the entrance to our ticketed area (which was hidden) and wandered through a few different places before settling on one near the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol. Rick Warrens invocation put an obvious chill on the ceremonies, but at least I could take comfort in the fact that it was so terribly written and delivered. One fun surprise, though lacking somewhat in taste, was the chorus of 'na-na, hey-hey, goodbye' that grew and swelled over the DC mall when George Bush was introduced. Dad and I both mentioned later that we were surprised in the lack of a feeling of emotion to Obama's speech, though after watching it again on video, its clear that it came off much better on video than in person. Dad and I had both wondered if that would be the case, especially given the crowd and distractions around us - while people were generally fine, nerves were getting frayed with getting around and most everyone was freezing. Emotional spontaneity did make another appearance later. As everyone was leaving, George Bush was shown on the jumbotrons getting into his helicopter. As he flew over the mall, the massive crowd joyously erupted in cheers and 'byes' while waving at the chopper. As for Dad and I, after getting caught in several one-way crowd labyrinths after the speech, we decided we were too 'over it' to bother with trying to catch any of the parade, and walked back to where our bus was parked at RFK stadium (thought not without first stopping for a pic on the iced-over reflecting pool). The walk was longer than we thought, but after some more shuttle horror stories from bus-mates, it seems it still may have been the best choice. Despite all these obstacles, in the end it was still a pretty amazing day and it was exciting to be a part of it, plus fun to share it with my Dad.

    January 19, 2009

    american adventure

    Well I made it to Virginia... Two coasts and two airlines later. Snow on the ground. Cold. Tired. This is insane. Not that I'm complaining - the insanity of it is just part of the fun. Dad and I have to be up in time to leave here before 4am in order to catch a bus from West Virginia into DC at 5am. (Keep in mind, 4am here is 1am West Coast time.) Hard to know whats in store for us tomorrow, but I don't think either of us will forget it. The mood in the airport was downright giddy. I'm sure the group on the bus will be too. Cold? What cold?! Sleep? What sleep?! More tomorrow on my inaugural adventure with Dad.... and probably some pics throughout the day on Facebook, too. Welcome back, America.

    January 18, 2009

    the journey

    Just a few more pics from another day at the rodeo. These things can become bar, sleep, eat, rodeo, eat, bar, sleep, eat, rodeo, bar, sleep...which can be surprisingly exhausting. That or I'm just getting old. Or both. But I'm thankful and lucky for the friends I get to hang with, and that's always worth it. Monday starts another journey thats sure to be interesting. I fly back to LA so that I can catch a plane back to VA, and Dad and I are making our way to Washington Tuesday. I think you can guess why. This one's sure to be interesting, to say the least!