Early Apple TV ads were built around the idea that there is a special group of individuals, “Apple People,” who share an identity as Apple users, a a group of independent-minded consumers who defy the herd. Apple’s first major TV advertisement took place during the 1984 Superbowl to publicize the launch of its Macintosh computer. The ad suggested the end of an Orwellian world of black-and-white authoritarian conformity with all the Technicolor possibilities to be unleashed in the Macintosh.
This was followed in 1985 by an ad that portrayed an endless line of office workers walking blindly over a precipice. The “Lemmings” ad was launched in support of Apple’s new Macintosh Office System and further reinforced a contrast between an ingroup of Apple People and the blind conformity that drove the outgroup, other consumers.
Apple’s next ad campaign illustrated the comparative ease of the Mac in comparison to the PC by depicting the difficulties of a father in “finding the dinosaur” for his young son. The dinosaur, by implication, is the difficult-to-navigate PC. Here Apple began forging a clear distinction of the difference in identity between Apple consumers and behind-the-times PC users.
Apple continued this focus on drawing a distinction between its users and PC users. Its “Think Different” campaign in 1998 features stark black-and-white photos of trailblazing celebrities. The campaign, which ran until 2002, was criticized for reinforcing prevailing stereotypes of the Apple user and focusing on a minority of the computer-using public, often a consequence of creating a strong ingroup identification.
With the launch of the iPod came the digital music revolution, and Apple’s ad campaign continued to build a strong group identity for its users High-profile musicians showcased its new digital music player, creating a network with which music fans with a variety of tastes could identify.
With the launch of the iPod came the digital music revolution, and Apple’s ad campaign used high-profile musicians such as U2 and Eminem to showcase how its new digital music player united music fans of all genres.