Remember the icon Apple commercial “1984?” Directed by Ridley Scott, the award-winning ad introduced the world to the Macintosh, promising to help users break free from “Big Brother” IBM. While it has always been assumed that the 60-second commercial ran in its entirety only once – during the 1984 Super Bowl – it actually ran once before, just a few weeks earlier.
On December 31, 1983, just a few minutes before midnight to be exact, the ad hit the air in Twin Falls, Idaho, on KMVT-TV. The reason behind the peculiar airtime is that the advertising folks over at Chiat/Day (now TBWA\Chiat\Day) wanted the commercial to be eligible for that year’s advertising awards.
Tom Frank, who was the TV operator who aired the commercial on KMVT-TV told Mental Floss years later that he “was under explicit orders to make sure it aired and aired correctly.” He noted that the tape containing the commercial was immediately mailed back to the ad agency after its single airing.
Why would Apple’s ad agency select Twin Falls, Idaho as the spot to premiere the commercial? Because of its remote location. The ad agency was trying to qualify the commercial for the upcoming awards, they didn’t actually want anyone to see it and comment on it. The Super Bowl was where the official “premiere” would take place.
1983 was was the time known as “BI” (Before Internet), it was nothing like today’s connected world. If any company – let alone Apple – tried this, the commercial would find its way to YouTube or any one of a number of other video sites within minutes.