Ever since the advent of the television set, advertisements have been aired in order to lure individuals towards buying specific goods or services. Apple Inc., one of the world’s largest computer hardware development companies, has been known to air enticing commercials that have been pivotal in gaining the company a global presence. This rhetorical analysis shall evaluate Apple Inc.'s advertisement, ‘Change the World,’ and assess its impact on recipients.
‘Change the World’ is a relatively ‘quiet’ commercial that does not even mention the product being advertised. Nonetheless, it has been received well by viewers across the world. This is a highly creative advertisement that targets the audience indirectly in an attempt to create the brand awareness. The viewer is bound to ask questions such as ‘Which company is this?’ ‘What products are they advertising?’ Despite the fact that the commercial is set in an ultra-modern context, its sense of appeal can be directly linked to Aristotle’s principle of credibility (ethos).
As soon as the commercial is aired, a black screen appears. Soon afterwards, footage of one of the world’s greatest mathematician and physicist, Albert Einstein, is aired. The accompanying voice is of a special appeal to the computer company’s market segment. For instance, the announcement states that ‘Here is to the crazy ones… the misfits; the rebels; troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.’ Obviously, the announcer is trying to appeal to the viewer and invoke thoughts based on uniqueness and dynamism (‘viewing things differently’). The announcer pursues this line of reasoning by further stating that ‘while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius; because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do!’ By airing these powerful statements along with footage of Albert Einstein, the commercial successfully depicts that by buying Apple products, the consumer shall be taking a step towards the success. In addition, as the announcer delivers the message, softly-toned piano music plays in the background. This is accompanied by images of significant historical figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Bob Dylan, Buckminster Fuller, Yoko Ono, Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon, Vincent Van Gogh, Ted Turner, Muhammad Ali, and Pablo Picasso amongst others. Obviously, the commercial displays images of a significant number of world renowned people. In essence, this is not only aimed at gaining the viewer’s attention, but also emphasizes heights an individual can reach via buying and using Apple Inc.’s products. After these images flash by, the last image is of a young, unidentified girl before the screen fades to black. This provides a contrast to images of past historical figures. Just as the small girl is bound to scale heights achieved by past famous figures, so shall the audience, if they purchase Apple Inc.’s computers. In fact, a phrase, ‘Think Different’ appears on screen to further reinforce this line of thought. All along, no mention or linkage has been made to Apple Inc. However, at the end, the Apple logo, which most people are familiar with, appears above the aforementioned phrase before commercial ends. Obviously, this is a deliberate attempt to generate interest and engage the viewer.
Evidently, the advert displays images of some of the greatest figures in the 20th century in diverse fields. For instance, Hitchcock, Lennon and Dylan are some of the most famous entertainers of the last half of the 20th century. In addition, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., are some of the most popular political figures and social activists of all time. Fuller and Einstein are renowned for their invaluable contributions to specific fields in science. Ted Turner inspired a revolution in the television and film industry. Eahart and Ali are regarded as some of the world greatest individuals due to their success and dominance in feats involving the physical ability. Finally, paintings and assorted pieces of art done by Picasso and Van Gogh have been regarded as some of the most precious pieces of the 20th century.
Nonetheless, why does the advert choose to display images of these historical figures? A casual, cynical observation shows that these people are in no way linked to Apple Inc. In fact, none of these individual’s works or acts were aired live on a computer, and most of them were already deceased long before Apple Inc. was founded in the 1970s. However, this advert is a new kind of brand awareness campaign. By relating products to famous people, the brand gains consumer recognition. In the recent past, global companies such as Nike, Pepsi and Coca-Cola have become a household name via this form of advertising. This is due to the fact that advertising through brand awareness and recognition enables consumers to differentiate amongst homogenous products (products that satisfy the same need). Thus, creating a brand and promoting the brand recognition are of vital importance, if a company is to wade off its competitors. This form of advertising is commonly used by companies which already have a global presence or participate in mature markets, as well as new entrants who desire to create interest in their products.
Nonetheless, is the ‘Change the World’ advert merely a commercial aimed at branding awareness? Whereas it shares various features associated with brand awareness commercials such as a quiet, low-toned audio track, a single announcer (commonly a monologue), alternating black and white footage and zero references or linkage to any product, this advert is obviously meant to go beyond the creation of a brand. In fact, it generates an interest in the viewer’s mind with regards to which products Apple Inc. develops. Nonetheless, Chiat/Day Advertising Agency (the company charged with the responsibility of developing the advert) and Steve Jobs have strongly claimed that the advert was only meant to promote Apple as a brand. Given the success that Chiat/Day Advertising Agency has received in the past, an observer can only assume that that this company is fully aware of the market segment hereby targeted.
Having established the purpose of the commercial, one can decipher that the purpose of airing images of famous historical figures is to create a positive ethos. Hence, viewers should not only associate themselves with these famous persons, but can also scale such heights via purchasing and using Apple Inc. computers. Although people who desire to ‘push the human race forward’ shall be regarded as ‘crazy’ or ‘misfits,’ they shall achieve popularity after facing seemingly insurmountable odds. This is reflective of early Silicon Valley movers and shakers such as the late Steve Jobs, one of the founding fathers of Apple Inc.
One of the most outstanding features of this advert is that it matches words and images. The synchronization between these images and vocals triggers the viewer’s imagination and reinforces the message beyond what a customary advert would achieve. When the audience hears ‘crazy,’ an image of Einstein flashes by, ‘misfit’ is matched to an image of Dylan and ‘troublemakers’ is matched to an image of Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition, when the announcer states that ‘to those who are not fond of rules,’ images of Lennon and Otto are displayed. Moreover, Fuller’s image is matched to the ‘no respect for the status quo’ statement. The announcer states that ‘you can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them’ a statement well-matched to Ali and Turner’s images. This statement is followed by ‘about the only thing you can't do is ignore them,’ a statement that is matched to Mahtma Gandhi’s image. Whereas Henson is a ‘genius,’ Van Gogh is depicted as ‘crazy’. These phrases have been synchronized to correspond to the public’s perception of each of these famous persons.
Therefore, the commercial coerces the viewer into identifying with each of these famous individuals and pejorative terms used to describe them. For instance, ‘crazy’ and ‘misfits’ are terms that the audience should identify. Through Apple, the audience is not bound by the status quo. Hence, they are in a prime position to change the world. This line of thought is further cemented by the phrase ‘Think Different.’ Surely, famous people should have decent grammar? However, the quote breaks a grammatical rule and is representative of rules that these ‘geniuses’ shall break in their path to glory via Apple Inc. Chiat/ Day Advertisement Agency expects the viewer to consider ‘different’ as an adjective or a noun that embodies the element of deviation from customary norms. Finally, a multi-colored logo appears which contrasts to the black-and-white used throughout the advert. Whereas the black-and-white signifies famous individuals in the past, the multi-colored logo represents the future. Hence, Apple is different.
In conclusion, ‘Change the World’ is an advert that conveys a powerful message through several rhetorical techniques. By identifying with famous historical figures, Apple Inc. appeals to the audience’s respect for them and, thus, creates a positive ethos. In addition, pejorative terms such as ‘misfit’ and ‘crazy’ reinforce the message that through Apple, the audience shall be positively ‘different’. Therefore, the commercial successfully enables positive brand awareness and recognition.