Magazine article Humanities

Think Different

Magazine article Humanities

Think Different

Article excerpt

LEE CLOW, THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT CHIAT/DAY who had done the great "1984" ad for the launch of the Macintosh, was driving in Los Angeles in early July 1997 when his car phone rang. It was Jobs. "Hi, Lee, this is Steve," he said. "Guess what? Amelio just resigned. Can you come up here?"

Apple was going through a review to select a new agency, and Jobs was not impressed by what he had seen. So he wanted Clow and his firm, by then called TBWA/Chiat/Day, to compete for the business. "We have to prove that Apple is still alive," Jobs said, "and that it still stands for something special."

Clow said that he didn't pitch for accounts. "You know our work," he said. But Jobs begged him. It would be hard to reject all the others that were making pitches, including BBDO and Arnold Worldwide, and bring back "an old crony," as Jobs put it. Clow agreed to fly up to Cupertino with something they could show. Recounting the scene years later, Jobs started to cry.

This chokes me up, this really chokes me up. It was so clear that Lee loved Apple so much. Here was the best guy in advertising. And he hadn't pitched in ten years. Yet here he was, and he was pitching his heart out, because he loved Apple as much as we did. He and his team had come up with this brilliant idea, "Think Different." And it was ten times better than anything the other agencies showed. It choked me up, and it still makes me cry to think about it, both the fact that Lee cared so much and also how brilliant his "Think Different" idea was. Every once in a while, I find myself in the presence of puritypurity of spirit and love-and I always cry. It always just reaches in and grabs me. That was one of those moments. There was a purity about that I will never forget. I cried in my office as he was showing me the idea, and I still cry when I think about it.

Jobs and Clow agreed that Apple was one of the great brands of the world, probably in the top five based on emotional appeal, but they needed to remind folks what was distinctive about it. So they wanted a brand image campaign, not a set of advertisements featuring products. It was designed to celebrate not what the computers could do, but what creative people could do with the computers. "This wasn't about processor speed or memory," Jobs recalled. "It was about creativity." It was directed not only at potential customers, but also at Apple's own employees: "We at Apple had forgotten who we were. One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are. That was the genesis of that campaign."

Clow and his team tried a variety of approaches that praised the "crazy ones" who "think different." They did one video with the Seal song "Crazy" ("We're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy"), but couldn't get the rights to it. Then they tried versions using a recording of Robert Frost reading "The Road Not Taken" and of Robin Williams's speeches from Dead Poets Society. Eventually they decided they needed to write their own text; their draft began, "Here's to the crazy ones."

Jobs was as demanding as ever. When Clow's team flew up with a version of the text, he exploded at the young copywriter, "This is shit!" he yelled. "It's advertising agency shit and I hate it." It was the first time the young copywriter had met Jobs, and he stood there mute. He never went back. But those who could stand up to Jobs, including Clow and his teammates Ken Segall and Craig Tanimoto, were able to work with him to create a tone poem that he liked. In its original sixty-second version it read:

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. …

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