Apple’s historic 1984 Super Bowl commercial was a watershed event for two reasons: It really got your attention, and it got a clear message across: that Apple’s Macintosh would save the world from a dystopian future of IBM clone PCs.

It was so prophetic, so true to what has become an iconic brand, that the message still holds up, 33 years later. That’s the definition of a great ad that really differentiates a company and defines a product’s value proposition. Sunday’s grab-bag of politically-charged Super Bowl ads, not so much.

Controversial commercials by Audi, Coke, Budweiser, Airbnb and Lumber 84 may have captured the lion’s share of tweets and YouTube views, but I doubt they’ll move the needle for their brands for one simple reason: they failed to meet the second condition. They were vague sociopolitical statements, not distinct product or corporate messages.

Never mind that they risked alienating or confusing potential customers. Sure, they got your attention, but they said absolutely nothing memorable or unique about the companies that spent millions to air them, or their products. Nothing that would speak to a customer’s practical needs or emotional wants.

It’s one thing to get attention, and quite another to get customers. Just ask anyone who was around back in the day at Apple. Even with that killer commercial, the Macintosh took forever to take off. But it definitely set the tone for Apple as a company that shatters the status quo and identifies with customers that “Think Different.”

Everyone is looking for attention these days. That goes for corporate, small business and personal brands. We are literally flooded with clickbait, sociopolitical commentary, and popular content seeking our attention. Don’t fall into that trap. It’s even more of a losing proposition today than it was back in 1984. Far more. Don’t waste your time.

And, as I often say, if your business isn’t politics, keep politics out of your business.

Image credit: Apple

  • BigGameHunter

    My God . . . Ironically, I am consulting to an ad agency and am actually here as I read this. These clowns don’t get it, but that is my message. Only you tell it better.

    • Steve Tobak

      Great minds …