Analysis

Topics: Macintosh, Think Different, Steve Jobs Pages: 5 (1634 words) Published: October 28, 2013
Here's a thought-provoking analysis of a famous Apple Computer TV spot

Change the World: 
Ethos as Brand Recognition in an Apple Commercial

This essay is a short examination of the rhetorical techniques employed in Apple Computer, Inc.'s recent major television commercial, "Change the World." The spot is the first from Apple since the company reassigned its advertising contract in 1997 to Chiat/Day, the firm responsible for Apple's famous, award-winning "1984," which originally aired during the halftime of the 1984 Super Bowl.

A viewer used to typical commercials might wonder how this very quiet ad--which doesn't even mention the product--could sell computers. But I think the ad is an example of a genre of ad that is called "brand advertising," which works indirectly, creating an image of the company and its product that a potential customer can identify with. Though the commercial is very modern, it uses an ancient appeal that Aristotle called ethos or credibilty.

The commercial, after opening to a momentarily black screen, first shows some footage of Albert Einstein, the great physicist and mathematician. An announcer says:

"Here's to the crazy ones -- the misfits; the rebels; troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

The voiceover is backed by some quiet piano music. As the announcer speaks, images of other great figures in history are flashed on screen: Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Buckminster Fuller, Muhammed Ali, Ted Turner, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Jim Henson, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and others. The final person shown is a young, anonymous girl. The commercial then fades to black, and the phrase "Think different." fades in to white. A moment later, the familiar multi-colored Apple logo appears above the text, and the commercial ends.

Obviously, the first thing to observe is that the individuals shown are some of the great individuals of the twentieth century, in fairly distinct fields. There would likely be very little argument, if any, that Dylan, Lennon, Hitchcock, and Henson are some of the most influential entertainers of the latter half of our century. Similarly, King and Gandhi are probably the two greatest social activists of our century. Einstein and Fuller made innumerable contributions to science, in addition to their work in less esoteric fields. Turner revolutionized the television industry. Ali and Earhart are famous for feats of physical ability. Van Gogh and Picasso, of course, are two of the modern masters of painting.

To what effect are the images of these individuals used? A cynical observer might first say that these individuals have nothing to do with Apple Computer or their products -- none of the people are shown using computers, and some had been deceased long before Apple was even founded in the nineteen-seventies.  

The key to understanding these individuals' presence is the knowledge that this advertisement is part of a new brand advertising campaign. In such a campaign, a company typically attempts to generate brand recognition, and respect for that brand. The largest brand campaigns of recent television include those of Nike, or of the largest beverage companies, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Brand campaigns are important to companies because they provide a means by which consumers might be induced to differentiate (rather arbitrarily) between the fairly homogeneous products offered by competing companies. Brand campaigns generally become important to...
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