The Other Superbowl: I.B.M. vs. Apple

By Philip H. Dougherty
The New York Times

January 23, 1984

Yesterday's Super Bowl telecast marked the opening of a far bigger competition than a mere football tussle: International Business Machines vs. Apple for dominance in the personal computer market. Each entered a 60-second commercial with the time alone costing more than $800,000 for each advertiser.

In the process, the world learned that Lord, Geller, Federico, Einstein, the I.B.M. agency, is once again using the Charlie Chaplin character for PCjr, its new entry. But instead of Gary Merrill as the voice-over, this new campaign features the voice of Estelle Parsons. A baby carriage was also included in the spot for ''the bright little edition to the family.''

The spot for Apple's Macintosh can only be described as something else. It was created by Chiat/Day and directed by Ridley Scott, the Englishman who directed the film ''Alien'' and those far-out Chanel spots. Apple's is entitled ''1984,'' having been inspired by the George Orwell novel. A cast of some 300 extras, with grayish faces and in grey clothing sit drone-like on benches in a drab auditorium intent on a Big Brother shouting at them from a large screen. Then lots of action. A heroine, a police chase and an exploding screen.

Since the $400,000 production was scheduled to be played only about 18 times in 11 markets, Jay Chiat was asked, ''How can one amortize the cost of the spot in such a short time?''

''What we are amortizing,'' he responded, ''is the future of the company. If we don't do well, I.B.M. will own it all.'' He said Apple will be spending about $25 million for Macintosh, while PCjr reportedly has a $40 million introductory budget. So $400,000 doesn't seem like all that much. Besides, a 30-second spot is included in the package.

Copyright 1984 The New York Times Company