Dec 9, 2016 6:23 AM PT

15 things you never knew about Apple’s ‘Get a Mac’ campaign

323 Get A Mac ads were made, you only saw 66 of them


Campaign in the US has published a hugely interesting behind the scenes article on the untold history of Apple’s iconic ‘Get A Mac’ ads campaign. Based on interviews with ten people involved in the project, the article’s packed with fascinating information you won’t have come across before. Here are just a few items from the extensive collection:


The campaign was developed to underline the advantages of the Mac platform in contrast to PCs as Apple migrated the Mac to Intel processors.


The team realized they couldn’t just discuss the advantages of the Mac, but also needed to show the challenges in using a PC to succeed in the campaign.

It took months

The creative teams at TBWA\Chiat\Day spent at least nine months developing the campaign – for around six months they presented 10-15 ideas to Steve Jobs every week until they found one Steve liked.

Will Ferrell almost did it

The agency got as far as casting multiple campaigns before the decision to run the ‘Get A Mac’ approach, at various points Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, and John Cusack could have ended up fronting a campaign.

The Malibu connection

Eric Grunbaum and Scott Trattner came up with what became the ‘Get A Mac’ campaign idea while surfing in Malibu, a Mac and a PC represented by two characters. They didn’t think Apple would go for it.


The first ‘Get A Mac’ ad written was ‘Virus’, in which PC catches a cold. “There are 114,000 known viruses for PCs,” PC warns. “Not Macs,” Mac replies. Things haven’t changed much.


The decision to cast Justin Long as the Mac came from Steve Jobs, who had seen Long in ‘Herbie: Fully Loaded’. Herbie was a smart car.

Justin Long

Justin Long thought he was going to be cast as the nerdy PC character, but was a little reticent to take an ads role in case it affected his more serious acting work.


‘Junebug’ director, Phil Morrison, who understood sharp, smart, short, comedy, directed the ads.

Who is PC?

The team wanted the PC character to be smart, charming, even lovable. They saw John Hodgman on ‘The Daily Show’, and that was that.

Even PC uses a Mac

John Hodgman (PC) is actually a Mac user. He has been since seeing the legendary 1984 Macintosh ad.


Huge amounts of work went into choosing just the right look for both men. Long (Mac) always wore designer gear in contrast to Hodgman’s suits.


The teams created 323 different ‘Get A Mac’ spots and rejected hundreds more, but Jobs only authorized just 66 to air.

Steve on Windows

Creative director Jason Sperling says Steve Jobs thought this way, "Why is it that people are using PCs? They're ****ing horrible computers. This makes no sense to me." When Microsoft shot back with its own competitive Vista ads, Jobs felt like while his competitor was spending a ton of cash on making ads, it wasn’t focusing on fixing Vista’s many problems.

'Teeter Totter'

This was the last ‘Get A Mac’ ad that ran.

There is much more

There is much, much more fascinating behind the scenes information about the Get A Mac ad series inside Campaign’s fascinating two-part report and the illuminating podcast that accompanies it. It really is essential reading (and listening) for Apple history buffs and creative industry types.

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