Republican Santorum Channels Apple’s ‘1984’ & ‘Lemmings’ Ads

Rick Santorum, Republican candidate for U.S. president, has released a new commercial that borrows, though some may consider that verb to be charitable, from both Apple’s 1984 and Lemmings commercials. The ad casts fellow Republican Mitt Romney in the role of IBM/Big Brother and a Rick Santorum supporter in the role of the proverbial hammer tosser/sign-holder who stops the line of zombie drones marching to cast their vote.

Screen from Rick Santorum Ad

Frame from Rick Santorum Political Ad (Full Ad Embedded Below)

All of the imagery described above harkens back to Apple’s 1984 commercial, an ad that Apple aired during the 1984 Super Bowl that has consistently been named among the best, if not the best, commercial since then.

Interestingly, though, the ad also throws in a few seconds from Apple’s Lemmings ad, a commercial that ran in 1985 and has universally been condemned as a flop. In that ad, a line of blindfolded businessmen marches off a cliff until one fellow pulls off the blindfold, thinks differently, stops, and presumably uses a Mac at his business.

Mr. Santorum’s ad has a similar, but brief moment where blindfolded voters march off a back alley drop-off until one fellow pulls off the blindfold, thinks different, and stops, presumably to vote for Mr. Santorum. The ad then returns to the 1984 imagery.

Rick Santorum Political Ad

Many on the political right in the U.S. have attempted to claim Steve Jobs since the Apple cofounder passed away, this despite the fact that Mr. Jobs was a known supporter of the center-left Democrat party. He offered to consult for John Kerry during the 2004 election and brought former U.S. vide president Al Gore onto Apple’s board of directors. He also offered to make commercials for Barack Obama, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography, Steve Jobs.

Mr. Jobs also donated to the Democratic Party in the past, having donated $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2000 and $26,700 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006. He donated $1,000 to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel when Mr. Emanuel ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004.

In addition, one of Apple’s only known political donations was given to a group fighting Prop. 8 in California while Steve Jobs was CEO. Prop. 8 was a voter initiative to make gay marriage illegal in California. Apple donated US$100,000 to a group fighting that initiative. Mr. Santorum has campaigned strongly on a religious platform that includes a very strong anti-homosexual plank.

Under Mr. Jobs’s stewardship, Apple also pulled out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest that group’s environmental policies and lobbying efforts to fight efforts to curb global warning. The Chamber’s position is slightly to the left of Mr. Santorum’s, who doesn’t believe in man-made global warming and has recently accused the Obama administration of following a “phony theology” based on environmentalism.

At the same time, Mr. Jobs reportedly told President Obama that it was too hard to make factories in the U.S., a thread that resonates with conservatives. That could be why former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry evoked Steve Jobs’s name as a reason for deregulating America. His message was that he wanted to bring Mr. Jobs back to the U.S., and we’ll leave you to make of that what you will. The Tea Party, a far right splinter group of the Republican Party, also claimed Mr. Jobs as a closet Republican.

This is the first time to our knowledge, however, that a political campaign has tried to harness Apple’s advertising imagery in a commercial. Various interests have tapped into Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign, but Mr. Santorum’s ad skirts homage and goes straight to remake when it comes to 1984 (with a side of Lemmings).