Apple’s Famed ‘1984’ Super Bowl Ad Almost Didn’t Air

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – It has become an icon of the Super Bowl era, but the famous Apple ‘1984’ ad almost didn’t make it to air.

The ad is among the all-time Super Bowl ads that will be shown Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on KPIX as part of the two-hour “Super Bowl Greatest Commercials 2016” special hosted by Boomer Esiason and Katherine McPhee. The special will follow KPIX’s Countdown to Gold which airs at 7 p.m.

The ad – a takeoff on George Orwell’s famous ‘1984’ novel – features a young woman who tosses a hammer into the screen displaying the image of ‘Big Brother.’

Since it’s airing, it has become a classic of the Super Bowl era.

“We were looking at the cover of Business Week and it said the winner is IBM,” said John Scully, who was Apple’s CEO from 1983-1993. “What are we going to do at the Super Bowl to standout when the winner has been declared?”

Jesse Cagle, editorial director of People and Entertainment magazines, said the Silicon Valley giant saw itself at the time as a company “that will change the world.”

So Scully and his team settled on trying to fashion a unique, eye-catching ad.

“We knew we had to do something so outrageous that it will stop the world,” Scully said.

Steve Jobs and Scully watched the ‘1984’ ad and knew it was something special.

“Steve Jobs and I watched it together and said ‘Wow it’s really incredible,’” Scully said.

But Apple’s Board of Directors was not so sure.

Bill Campbell, who was then vice president of marketing for Apple, said the board’s reaction was “silent, then deadly.” They didn’t want to run the ad.

But the board was overruled and the ad had become a piece of advertising history.

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