Opinion: Mac advertising masterpieces and missteps

A dozen dazzling and dopey Mac ads from the past 25 years

"Super Computer"

Year: 1999

For a stretch of time in the late '90s, Apple devoted a lot of its advertising to trying to convince viewers that its PowerPC chips were faster than the Pentiums found in Wintel machines. But that approach had a fundamental problem: A buyer who's influenced by raw chip speed is more likely to be swayed by the number of megahertz a machine boasts -- a metric by which the Pentium was surpassing the PowerPC by 1999 -- than by this ad's obscure mention of "1 billion calculations per second."

Who knows how many calculations per second Microsoft Word does, anyway? Basing your appeal on obscure numbers no one can relate to is a losing message, and even the announcer in this ad doesn't sound like he's taking it seriously.

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