The pace of technology is so fast that it’s hard to imagine how we survived without the Internet, email, or smartphones. My 3-year old daughter recently saw a picture of a toy rotary phone and asked me “What is that?” It got me thinking about old TV ads, so I’ve come up with my list of Top 10 Technology Commercials. This is the latest in my YouTube Hall of Fame series which includes Top 5 Mobile Phone Scenes, Top 5 Sales Scenes and Top 10 Big Data Scenes. Hope you enjoy!
#10: Sony Walkman
The granddaddy of portable consumer devices. Does it get any more ’80s than a Jane Fonda-wannabe wearing leg warmers and a Walkman?
#9: Apple Lisa (featuring a young Kevin Costner)
The predecessor to the Apple Macintosh, the Lisa was insanely expensive yet an important milestone in personal computing. But the best part of this commercial is seeing a young Kevin Costner. Who knew?
#8: Atari: Journey rock video game
Back in 1982 there was actually an Atari game featuring the band Journey. I love that it was dubbed “the world’s first rock video game!” as if it filled some sort of market need. I still remember watching this as a kid and thinking “what are groupies?” Forget the Sopranos final scene, this is Journey’s greatest achievement.
#7: IBM PC
When IBM finally entered the consumer PC market, they came up with several cute and clever ads featuring Charlie Chaplin. I remember seeing these ads a million times growing up.
#6: Lotus 1-2-3
This was actually a promotional video, but it’s so goofy and Lotus is so iconic (the spreadsheet successor to VisiCalc prior to Excel) that it has to be on the list. It’s funny to see how hard companies tried to make PCs look so easy and fun.
#5: Windows 95
This ad from the Windows 95 launch is in my opinion the coolest ad Microsoft has ever done (aside from the Your Potential, Our Passion campaign). It was well worth the $3 million they paid the Rolling Stones for the rights to “Start Me Up”.
Now we’re getting to the dot-com bubble. Excite was one of the first Internet/search portals in the mid-90s along with Yahoo! and Lycos. Similar to Microsoft, it’s clear that Excite was targeting baby boomers in this ad featuring the classic Hendrix song “Are You Experienced?”. This commercial still holds up well today.
The poster child/dog for the carefree dot-com era, Pets.com and its sock puppet mascot are always good for a laugh. Wasn’t it fun when there were 5 companies selling the exact same pet food online? Good times.
One thing that Amazon doesn’t get enough credit for is that they are one of the few “original” Internet companies that is still a market force and innovator after almost 20 years. They were born at the same time as Excite, Netscape, AOL, and all the e-commerce startups, yet Amazon continues to disrupt industries and create new business models. It’s quite impressive for a company that once made quirky commercials like this.
#1: Apple iPod
Remember the good old days when Apple just made music players and Macs? You know, all the way back in the year…2008? That was just 5 years ago! It feels like a lifetime ago, but that’s how far smartphones have come in 5 years. Here’s my favorite iPod ad featuring Eminem. I love the stylish twist given to Apple’s silhouette campaign. Great stuff.
What other commercials am I missing? Please put them in the comments below or tweet me @ChrisKimSAP.