The 10 Funniest Apple-Ad Parodies
Next Monday, Steve Jobs will take the stage in San Francisco for 2008's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. Almost everyone expects that Jobs will announce the second edition of the iPhone. And that the announcement will be followed by a barrage of stylish and witty ads. And that those ads will be followed by an avalanche of snarky
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Apple's marketing department must be blushing. The company's television ad campaigns are the subject of hundreds if not thousands of parodies on the Internet. Lots of them are--let's be honest--painfully amateurish and not all that funny. But
Here are some of the greatest hits from the Apple-mockumercial archives.
Apple 'Switch' Campaign: Crash Different
In 2002, Apple launched its "Switch" ad campaign, in which
Hunter Crestle didn't buy the ad's premise, because he knew that using a Mac can be just as frustrating. In
Microsoft's ZunePhone: A Rotary-Dial iPhone Knockoff
We've all heard the old joke: "If Microsoft built cars..." But what if the company made an iPhone knockoff?
In a parody of the Apple iPhone ad campaign "This Is How," this fake ad shows Bill Gates's finger taking us on a tour of
Hello, I'm a 'Get a Mac' Parody Ad
The current "Get a Mac" advertising campaign, with actors John Hodgman and Justin Long, just might be the most parody-inducing advertisement Apple has ever created. In most cases, though, the actual ads are a lot funnier than the parodies.
For my money the most innovative imitation comes from Novell, which launched this pro-Linux ad in March 2007. The ad features both a Mac and a PC claiming to be the best. Halfway through, a woman who represents Linux introduces herself, much to the chagrin of both "number one" operating systems.
Who knew Linux was female?
Getting Feist-y With the Nano
Nothing is more annoying than buying digital gear only to find out the next day that it's obsolete. That's how many Apple customers feel about the company's rapid-fire release of new iPods. No other parody of an Apple commercial pays tribute to such product-cycle angst better than this one from Mad TV.
The Ad That Launched a Thousand Parodies
In 2006, Apple's ad campaign for new colorful iPod Nanos featured silhouettes of peppy dancers gyrating against solid colors to the sound of upbeat music. The ads were instantly popular not only with Apple fans but also with people looking for something to mock. And mock they did.
You could spend a day watching the seemingly endless tributes to the Nano ads. One of the best parodies, posted to YouTube by user heartofgold42,
Can You Be Too Thin? Lenovo vs. MacBook Air
Call it the notebook battle of the bulge. Apple released its svelte MacBook Air earlier this year,
Not long after, Lenovo released the ThinkPad X300, which, while very skinny, wasn't quite as slim as the Air. Perhaps feeling a tad insecure about its body image, Lenovo lashed out, making fun of some of the compromises that Apple had made to shave inches from the Air. A hand pulls the Air out of a manila folder, attaches a graphics card, a USB hub, an external DVD drive, and assorted other peripherals, and then tries to shove them all back into the envelope, tearing it in the process.
SNL: A Veritable Apple-Ad Parody Factory
Saturday Night Live has been poking fun at Apple commercials since at least 1995. (Check out this original Mac ad and the parody with the tagline: "Macintosh: The Power to Crush the Other Kids.") Over the years
But it was a spoof of Apple's "black backdrop" Apple iPhone ads that might have gotten SNL the most laughs. On November 3, 2007, SNL comedian Fred Armisen did a take on the highly stylized ad, making fun of some of the "pinch it" gestures that the iPhone's interface supports.
Some eagle eyes spotted that the iPhone used in the commercial had undergone jailbreaking to run iPhone applications not sanctioned by Apple.
(Around the same time, another video SNL spoof of Apple's "black backdrop" ad leaked to the Web. This "punch 'n' run" version of the iPhone ad was a bit more outrageous and never ran on NBC, but
1984, 24 years Later
There's no statute of limitations on Apple-ad parodies. A mysterious YouTuber with the handle ParkRidge47 reached all the way back to Apple's "1984" Macintosh television commercial (which famously ran during Super Bowl XVIII) to lampoon presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The video is a mashup of the original Apple ad, which
Here's to the Parodies: Think Different
Perhaps the most iconic installment of Apple's "Think Different" ad campaign was a TV commercial called "The Crazy Ones." Voice-over narration from Richard Dreyfuss played while black-and-white videos of rule-breaking achievers such as Albert Einstein, Maria Callas, and Amelia Earhart ran. The serious tenor of the ad, coupled with the images of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. that were also part of the campaign, made it an easy target for parody.
The funniest (and most tasteful) "Think Different" parody applies the same solemn music and narration to black-and-white video clips of Star Wars characters such as Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Padme Amidala.
Apple Makes Fun of Itself: Mac vs. Parfait
Why let everyone else have all the fun making parody ads? That's what I imagine Apple's marketing department decided when it hired comedian Will Farrell to do a satire of one of its "Switch" commercials. The ad, in which Farrell contrasts Apple products with a parfait and identifies himself as a porn actor, ran at Apple's 2002 Macworld Expo keynote.
It didn't take long for the fake "Switch" commercial to make its way to YouTube.