You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …
We sell computers … but not, like, for nerds.
The 90’s were a weird time for computers. In the 80’s, home computers had first become commonplace. And in the 2000’s, they would become an essential part of daily life. The 90’s marked the transition point where computers first became ubiquitous, something every household had to consider purchasing.
Yet even as computers became more affordable, and came loaded with more features that would entice the average consumer (including access to the fabled “Information Superhighway”), there was still a stigma attached to them. For a long time, computers had been chiefly the province of academics, engineers, and other people who had to process large amounts of numbers and data. In other words: geeks.
Even if someone didn’t look down on the computer literate, they were still likely to view the prospect of using a computer as intimidating. Surely it takes loads of technical know-how, and a head for math and programming and other such occult arts, to make the dread machines work?
Hence why Apple felt the need to assure consumers: hey, it’s all right, you don’t need to be a “computer person” to use a Mac; they work just as well for normal human beings, like you and me.
And who better to sell that message than Jeff Goldblum? The guy starred in two of the biggest blockbuster films of the decade: Jurassic Park and Independence Day. And in both, his character type was “the cool nerd”. Someone who’s a whiz at science and math, but also knows how to apply his knowledge to the real world, will step up in dangerous situations, has an active sex life, is good at funny little quips, and isn’t bad looking to boot!
Those roles conditioned audiences to accept that, if Jeff Goldblum talks to you about computers, he must know his stuff, while still presenting an image that you can relate and aspire to.
So if you ever get annoyed at the increasing digitization of everything in our society … blame it on Goldblum.