This is the title of one of Apple Computer's newest television advertisements as of 3/10/01. This ad is a departure from recent spots in that it doesn't feature Jeff Goldblum (who, while I respect him as an actor, was getting really annoying) nor does it show a single computer! Some in the advertising press are calling this the best Apple ad since the Macintosh introduction ad '1984' by Ridley Scott.

Note: this writeup describes the extended version of the ad available for viewing at

The spot opens with a hooded figure walking through a rainy urban setting, up stairs, through doors, under bare light bulbs, etc. Finally, we see that the figure is a young man as he opens a final set of doors and finds himself in an empty concert hall (which looks like Radio City Music Hall to me, but I'm really not sure). He seats himself near the middle of the house, and then addresses the stage and says 'Hi.'

The stage, we see, is full with a crowd of people standing around, all of whom chorus 'Hi' back. The people, it turns out, are musicians; the kid addresses them as a director might, and starts out "Okay, for this CD, I'd like to start with Liz doing Polyester Bride..." We see that one of the people on the stage is Liz Phair, who smiles back and says "Sure, for you," in a sultry tone.

The kid, shuffling what look to be minidiscs in his hands, then addresses other musicians in the crowd, requesting songs. They reply in character. A quick list of some of the musicians showcased, in no particular order:

The ad closes with a pan over the empty concert hall seating, and George Clinton on the voiceover stating "It's yo' music. Burn it on a Mac. Dig?" As the tagline "Rip.Mix.Burn." is printing on the screen a word at a time. Vectormane reminds me that at the bottom, the words "Don't Steal Music" fade in to complete the tagline.


I like this ad. It's stylish, low-key, and all the more effective because while my interest was piqued by the fairly stunning assembly of talent on the stage, I really didn't know (the first time I saw it) what it was for until the end! I watched, amused and impressed, until the overlay, when I recognized both the tagline and the font used as Apple Computer. The only time the product and company are mentioned is when George Clinton says 'Mac' and at the end, when the trademarked 'Think Different' tag is shown on the screen with the white Apple logo. The understatement, especially compared to the recent slew of ads from Apple involving freaky music and spinning computers, is quite effective. Add to this the entirely different look of the spot, which goes from abstract white backgrounds, bright colors (the iMac, for example) and flat colored- machines (G4 Cube, G4 minitower) to a dark, richly-hued concert hall with a brightly lit group of musicians wearing a wide variety of outfits. It also moves from voiceovers to visible conversation.

The real strength of the ad, however, is the star power! The message, implicit and understood, is that all these musicians whose work is known, respected and liked by many, use the Macintosh to do what they do, and that by using a Mac and the Apple application iTunes to manage and burn your private music collection, you'll be joining their ranks. There's also a subtle nod to copyright; the kid shuffling his minidiscs, as opposed to downloading the tracks; and a nod to the other side of the Napster fight with George Clinton's line "It's your music." (emphasis mine). The most telling reference to the whole issue, however, is 'hidden' in the ad itself - the kid is asking each of the artists for each track.

All in all, a wonderful ad, in the tradition of the few ads that have come out of Apple and been really, really inspiring. It manages to capitalize on the recent glut of product-heavy spots from Apple rather than abandon them; after all, it is assumed that the viewer knows what a 'Mac' is, and why this ad applies to it...but you don't have to recall any of the previous versions' imagery if you'd rather not.