Television & radio: No beige, just two easy steps

PETER YORK ON ADS NO 243: APPLE IMAC
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The Apple Mac always was the individualist's PC. The name, the implied culture, the graphics software; all of them endeared Apple to a certain kind of person, a thoughtful, world-conscious ex-hippie, often self-employed.

It wasn't the industry standard, but it managed to make Big Blue look just big and blue. But that was before the problems, before the market changed, before Microsoft ran the world, before the people fell out. Now, Apple is clearly back with a 1990s presentation of its 1980s positioning: singularity.

The new Apple commercial demystifies the Internet, while the posters talk about the design of the box ("sorry, no beige"). "Three easy steps to the Internet," says an American voice-over to a Fifties cool-jazz film- score type of music track, designed for relaxed loungers.

It's a very particular kind of American voice, one that probably sounds rather posh - even affected - to American ears, sounding all the syllables in Internet in a savoury way, for all the world like a PBS foreign affairs commentator. But at the same time he's just a bit Animal House because there's as much of a potential little laugh in his voice as Alma Cogan's.

We're staring at an electrical socket the while, and step one is plug- in with a black plug. Step two is get connected, and in goes the line.

Step three, he says - and he's already working on the cool humour tones - "there's no step three ... there's no step three". He's almost hysterical by now as the new Mac swings into view on a turntable.

And the point is that the new PC is Martian green, the colour and texture of solidified hair gel - a bit translucent, a bit 1950s lurid-looking - but tasteful with it. "Say hello to Mac", it says on the screen. Then we get the familiar bitten Apple logo, but this time rendered in the new Martian green glass look. Think different, it enjoins us.

It's meant to bring back all those funny familiar forgotten feelings; and it could work. Demystifying the Internet is nothing new, but it's very nicely done, and as Kermit used to urge, there's something nice about being green.

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