Ridley Scott says script for '1984' ad was 'devastatingly effective'

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Famed film director Ridley Scott had no idea who Steve Jobs was when he was hired to direct Apple's "1984" ad for the launch of the Macintosh.


"1984"


Some 38 years after the release of the original Mac, Ridley Scott is still known for directing the "1984" ad that launched it. He has also gained fame for directing Callie Khouri's "Thelma and Louise," and "Blade Runner" by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he says that it is from making ads that he learned to maximize budgets, and work to schedules. In 1983, Apple's then PR firm Chiat/Day asked him to direct the Mac ad and he initially thought "Apple" meant "The Beatles."

"They said 'no, no, no. Apple is this guy called Steve Jobs'" recounts Scott. "I went, 'Who the f*** is Steve Jobs?'"

Scott says that Chiat/Day explained the Mac to him and said that "it's probably going to be something." So he read the script.

"My god [I thought]. They're not saying what [the Mac] is, they're not showing what it is," says Scott. "They're not even saying what it does."

"It was advertising as an art form," he continues. "It was devastatingly effective."

So it was the "1984" script by Steve Hayden, Brent Thomas and Lee Clow that got Ridley Scott on board. But all these years on, Scott says that advertising has become harder because of one result of that Mac launch -- the iPhone.

"Advertising is changing dramatically," Scott told The Hollywood Reporter. "And the problem is it went onto this, [the iPhone], which was both genius and the enemy."

Scott's concern is that advertising now breaks into what people are trying to read, that it becomes a disruptive distraction -- and a very short one at that,

"It's now in segments, where you're trying to find an article and there's 19 little snippets of it," he says. "Is it effective? I very much doubt it."

Ridley Scott's production company, Scott Free, signed a first-look deal with Apple TV+ in 2020. He is currently directing "Kitbag," a film about Napoleon, for Apple.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    This is 10000% correct

    "Is it effective? I very much doubt it."

    Ridley Scott is so right on this. Ads just get more and more intrusive.  If you are going to target them... do it effectively.
    If I'm viewing a site based in the USA and my VPN has a POP of Germany why the heck are there ads for US only products and services all over it (I'm not in the US btw).  Then breaking up stories for ads is silly. More and more of us are using ad blockers or active filtering. Large parts of the screen being devoid of content is a sure-fire giveaway of a plethora of ads.

    Let me make it clear... I hate advertising of all sorts. 9 months spent working at an AD agency taught me all I needed to know and turn me off them for life. 
    Any site that has either 1) too intrusive ads or 2) tells me that I need to stop using an AD blocker etc is a site that I avoid from then on.

    Ads are becoming increasingly ineffective. It is time for a total rethink. The solution is not ever more intrusive ads. 

    byronlAlex_VStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,918member
    Pretty sure he’s better known for Alien, Blade Runner, and other movies than he is for the commercial. 

    He’s right, pop up ads and embedded ads after every other paragraph is not effective. They are annoying and makes me want to not read the article or even click on the ads. 

    Webpages shouldn’t be like Times Square. 
    byronlAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 6
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 1,161member
    Yes it was then! 
    But ahhhh,  The Irony Of it!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 6
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,989member
    jungmark said:
    Pretty sure he’s better known for Alien, Blade Runner, and other movies than he is for the commercial. 

    He’s right, pop up ads and embedded ads after every other paragraph is not effective. They are annoying and makes me want to not read the article or even click on the ads. 

    Webpages shouldn’t be like Times Square. 
    So what do you think should be done? Let the government regulate the quantity, content, and placement of ads? Ads are what they are today because they work on the general population. If ads were not making money for the companies they wouldn’t be there. They work, they generate income. Apparently there aren’t enough people upset with how ads are intrusive and annoying to change corporate minds.

    Without ads AppleInsider would become a subscription blog. How much would you be willing to pay each month to have access?
  • Reply 5 of 6
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    lkrupp said:
    jungmark said:
    Pretty sure he’s better known for Alien, Blade Runner, and other movies than he is for the commercial. 

    He’s right, pop up ads and embedded ads after every other paragraph is not effective. They are annoying and makes me want to not read the article or even click on the ads. 

    Webpages shouldn’t be like Times Square. 
    So what do you think should be done? Let the government regulate the quantity, content, and placement of ads? Ads are what they are today because they work on the general population. If ads were not making money for the companies they wouldn’t be there. They work, they generate income. Apparently there aren’t enough people upset with how ads are intrusive and annoying to change corporate minds.

    Without ads AppleInsider would become a subscription blog. How much would you be willing to pay each month to have access?

    It's not binary.
    Ads have powered media for pretty much forever and people were fine with them.  Some even watch the Super Bowl more for its ads than its football (especially if they're Kansas City fans).  It's only recently that ads have become so obnoxious.

    Can or should the government step in?  I doubt it.  But neither do I have your hate and fear of government.
    StrangeDaysmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 6
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,001member
    lkrupp said:
    jungmark said:
    Pretty sure he’s better known for Alien, Blade Runner, and other movies than he is for the commercial. 

    He’s right, pop up ads and embedded ads after every other paragraph is not effective. They are annoying and makes me want to not read the article or even click on the ads. 

    Webpages shouldn’t be like Times Square. 
    So what do you think should be done? Let the government regulate the quantity, content, and placement of ads? Ads are what they are today because they work on the general population. If ads were not making money for the companies they wouldn’t be there. They work, they generate income. Apparently there aren’t enough people upset with how ads are intrusive and annoying to change corporate minds.

    Without ads AppleInsider would become a subscription blog. How much would you be willing to pay each month to have access?
    Web advertising may still work, but ads have been getting less effective for decades. I was a lead dev at MarketWatch in 2000 and personally implemented our DoubleClick ads -- the big sexy at the time was simply having the top banner match the side banner(!), which we did with very basic techniques. We didn't have any to any of our readers' browsing history or utilize any sort of trackers, because the ads were effective enough at that point. Back then we were paid by the impression, not the click. Because they're getting less effective is why advertisers pushed for more personal data in order to counter-act ad apathy.

    John Gruber of Daringfireball makes a good case for why he uses hand-placed ads rather than an automated ad network -- it works better, and he makes more money. As the podcast world is eying automated ad placements, instead of custom ad reads during the show, he thinks they will make the same mistake as the web -- more annoying, more blocking, less effective.
    edited January 18 GeorgeBMac
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