Oral History of ‘Get a Mac’ with Justin Long, John Hodgman, and Creative Team

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Campaign US has put together a wonderful oral history of Apple’s “Get a Mac” ad campaign. Listen, it’s delightful. It’s wonderful. Justin Long (Mac) and John Hodgman (PC) talk about their roles, and the creative team from TBWA\Chiat\Day talk about putting it together.

Get a Mac Promo Shot with John Hodgman and Justing Long

A promo shot from “Get a Mac” with John Hodgman as “PC” and Justin Long as “Mac”

Mac

It’s full of amazing anecdotes and facts about how hard it was to come up with the campaign, how hard it was pitching Steve Jobs, and how easy it was to cast Justin Long as Mac. It turns out Steve Jobs suggested him.

It was Steve Jobs’ idea to bring in Justin Long. He saw him in “Herbie: Fully Loaded” and thought was a star on the rise. — Jason Sperling (a writer for the campaign)

There’s a ton more about that in the full piece.

PC

Also fascinating was John Hodgman getting cast as PC.

Not long after that, I got a call saying, “They want to know if you will fly to LA the day after tomorrow to read with the person that they’ve cast as the Mac.” I said, “No, I won’t.” I said to my agent “I’m not in my 20s, I’m in my 30s and I have a family and I can’t just drop everything to fly out to LA.”

Then she called back, and she said, “Well, they’re willing to make a concession. Can you come out the day after tomorrow?” I said, “No.” Then she came back again and said, “Are you willing to come the day after tomorrow if they give you the job?” I said, “All right, you called my bluff. I guess I have to.”

It was unknowingly the best negotiating I had ever done in my life.

Steve Jobs

Even getting Steve Jobs on board didn’t go well at first. According to Jason Sperling:

As we went through script after script, he kept saying, “That’s fucking stupid. That is so inane. Who the hell cares about that?” Lee Clow sort of nervously shuffling scripts around and saying, “Read this one instead, read this.”

“This one” was a script about viruses, a concept that was eventually shot and aired.

And eventually, of course, Steve jobs signed off on it. According to Jason Sperling:

We shot 12 spots the first round. After Steve saw our first-round rough cuts, he understood and appreciated them. And we got sign off.

Links

So, this whole thing was recorded as a podcast. You can listen to it on SoundCloud, or you can read through a full transcript. It’s fascinating. There’s a lot of material and interesting background. It’s wonderful.

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