Sculley was initially skeptical when he saw the storyboards, but Jobs insisted that they
needed something revolutionary. He was able to get an unprecedented budget of
$750,000 just to film the ad, which they planned to premiere during the Super Bowl.
Ridley Scott made it in London using dozens of real skinheads among the enthralled
masses listening to Big Brother on the screen. A female discus thrower was chosen to
play the heroine. Using a cold industrial setting dominated by metallic gray hues, Scott
evoked the dystopian aura of Blade Runner. Just at the moment when Big Brother announces
“We shall prevail!” the heroine’s hammer smashes the screen and it vaporizes
in a flash of light and smoke.
When Jobs previewed the ad for the Apple sales force at the meeting in Hawaii, they
were thrilled. So he screened it for the board at its December 1983 meeting. When the
lights came back on in the boardroom, everyone was mute. Philip Schlein, the CEO of
Macy’s California, had his head on the table. Mike Markkula stared silently; at first it
seemed he was overwhelmed by the power of the ad. Then he spoke: “Who wants to
move to find a new agency?” Sculley recalled, “Most of them thought it was the worst
commercial they had ever seen.” Sculley himself got cold feet. He asked Chiat/Day to
sell off the two commercial spots—one sixty seconds, the other
thirty—that they had purchased.
Jobs was beside himself. One evening Wozniak, who had been floating into and out of
Apple for the previous two years, wandered into the Macintosh building. Jobs grabbed
him and said, “Come over here and look at this.” He pulled out a VCR and played the ad.
“I was astounded,” Woz recalled. “I thought it was the most incredible thing.” When Jobs
said the board had decided not to run it during the Super Bowl, Wozniak asked what the
cost of the time slot was. Jobs told him $800,000. With his usual