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ABC is Taking a Bite from the Apple: Good Idea?
May 7, 2012  | By David Bianculli
 

To promote its new summer musical competition series, Duets, ABC is taking a bite from the Apple – and echoing the iconic, Orwellian ad used by Apple to launch the Macintosh computer in 1984. I invite you to compare and contrast, and ask whether it’s a good idea…

The original ad pushed the home-computer era, and Apple, into the stratosphere, with an expensive advertisement that had a huge impact, despite (or because of) the fact that it aired only once. The ad for the company’s then-new desktop computer was televised during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984 – and, taking full note of the year, had an Orwellian theme, promising a computerized end to Big Brother tyranny and monotony.
Nearly 30 years ago, there was no Internet to repeat it, though the ad was kept alive, and its reputation enhanced, by appearing in a string of “Best Commercials Ever” TV compendiums. But here it is, in all its futuristic glory:


And here’s ABC’s new on-air ad for Duets, the music competition series premiering May 24. Once again, there’s a woman running through the aisle to throw something at the screen and awaken the audience from its stupor. This time, though, it’s not a sledge hammer. It’s a mike stand:


No question, it’s a clever homage, and a sly Extra (my name for TV’s hidden in-jokes; more on them in a future column). My question is, does the Apple association saddle Duets with high expectations that it can’t possibly deliver?

These days, comparing yourself to Apple by appropriating its imagery is a bit like being a rock band and stealing shot-for-shot images from The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. How can they possibly hope to get away with it?

Except The Monkees, a group assembled and promoted for a copycat TV show, did precisely that, and proved hugely popular. So it could go either way.

But ABC already has succeeded in one measure. Though I’m not certain it’s a smart move, one thing’s for certain:

I’ve just written a whole column about the ad for Duets.

 
 
 
 
 
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