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Steve Jobs initially hated Apple's 'Think Different' campaign

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' first reaction to the "Think Different" ad campaign was less than welcoming, calling it "crap" before ultimately changing his mind and running the now iconic series.

In a lengthy piece written for Forbes by an advertising executive instrumental to the campaign's creation, Jobs reportedly hated the first "To the crazy ones" commercial, but came around to green light what would begin one of the most iconic examples of advertising in recent history.

Rob Siltanen, chairman and chief creative officer at Siltanen and Partners, notes that he was compelled to write the article when he saw discrepancies in Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography, which suggested that Jobs had written most of the "To the crazy ones" launch commercial.

"Steve was highly involved with the advertising and every facet of Apples business. But he was far from the mastermind behind the renowned launch spot," Siltanen writes. "In fact, he was blatantly harsh on the commercial that would eventually play a pivotal role in helping Apple achieve one of the greatest corporate turnarounds in business history."

Siltanen, who was creative director and managing partner at advertising firm TBWA/Chiat/Day during the "Think Different" campaign, pored over personal documents and notes he had taken during the creative process to write the Forbes piece.

Rob Siltanen | Source: Forbes

The process began when Jobs tasked the firm to come up a new ad campaign and required them to pitch it in order to win the contract. At the time Apple was suffering and desperately needed a new direction, and Siltanen notes that the "Think Different" slogan and the idea to match it with black-and-white photos of famous visionaries captured the company's intentions perfectly. The work was the brainchild of TBWA/Chiat/Day art director Craig Tanimoto.

When Jobs was first presented with the pitch, which included a short TV commercial set to Seal's song "Crazy," his first reaction panned the series, saying it would make him look like an egotist. He almost immediately changed his mind, however, and TBWA/Chiat/Day won the contract.

"[Jobs] looked around the room filled with the 'Think Different' billboards and said, 'This is great, this is really great but I cant do this. People already think Im an egotist, and putting the Apple logo up there with all these geniuses will get me skewered by the press," Siltanen recalls. "Steve then paused and looked around the room and said out loud, yet almost as if to his own self, 'What am I doing? Screw it. Its the right thing. Its great. Lets talk tomorrow.'



Following the successful pitch, Jobs wanted to use the original TV commercial featuring Seal, but the piece was too long and could not be cut down to the required 60 seconds. Instead, Siltanen suggested an ad with wording similar to a speech Robin Williams made in the movie "Dead Poets Society." Jobs liked the idea and the ad exec went to work creating a TV spot, writing with the mindset it would be voiced by Robin Williams.

The result of Siltanen's work was a rough draft of what would become the "To the crazy ones" commercial. His script, which was tweaked by ad guru Lee Clow, was very close to what would finally go to air.

"We played the spot once, and when it finished, Jobs said, 'It sucks! I hate it! Its advertising agency shit! I thought you were going to write something like "Dead Poets Society!" This is crap!,'" Siltanen remembers of the commercial pitch.

Jobs ultimately changed his mind, and "To the crazy ones" was made featuring a voice-over by Richard Dreyfuss. The kickoff to the "Think Different" campaign was a success, and embodied what Apple was striving to achieve in setting themselves apart from the competition.

"To the crazy ones" TV spot featuring voice-over by Richard Dreyfuss | Source: Forbes

After the campaign launched, Apple stock prices tripled within a year and the ads went on to win multiple awards including several commercial-of-the-year titles for the "Crazy ones" spot.

"While Steve Jobs didnt create the advertising concepts, he does deserve an incredible amount of credit," Siltanen writes. "Without Steve Jobs theres not a shot in hell that a campaign as monstrously big as this one would get even close to flying off the ground."
post #2 of 48
And he thought the iPod on Windows was a stupid idea just before Apple did it. The man was certainly imperfect, even business-wise.
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post #3 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"We played the spot once, and when it finished, Jobs said, 'It sucks! I hate it! It’s advertising agency shit! I thought you were going to write something like "Dead Poets Society!" This is crap!,'" Siltanen remembers of the commercial pitch.

Jobs ultimately changed his mind, and "To the crazy ones" was made featuring a voice-over by Richard Dreyfuss.

After reading the biography, Steve's reaction of "It's agency shit" was a very common one and it doesn't surprise me that it happened here. What is good is that those who were behind these successful endeavors are finally starting to get their due as well. Obviously there were dozens of people involved in every campaign and Jobs' was not the only creative person having input. But it is without question Jobs' continuous demand for--excuse the pun--something different, that always set Apple's commercials and products apart from everyone else. Already I'm seeing these new ads not meeting that standard that he so passionately and vehemently demanded.
post #4 of 48
.

Excellent pic of Hitchcock's Poster

And, of course, the Video of Ad

Just not sure why Siltanen's photo is there

But could it be even BIGGER ?



.
post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

And he thought the iPod on Windows was a stupid idea just before Apple did it. The man was certainly imperfect, even business-wise.

If he had truly believed that there wouldn't have been an iPod on Windows. In the end Steve came to believe it was right and so it happened. Just because he demanded to be convinced doesn't mean he was totally against something.
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post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by owen35 View Post

After reading the biography, Steve's reaction of "It's agency shit" was a very common one and it doesn't surprise me that it happened here. What is good is that those who were behind these successful endeavors are finally starting to get their due as well. Obviously there were dozens of people involved in every campaign and Jobs' was not the only creative person having input. But it is without question Jobs' continuous demand for--excuse the pun--something different, that always set Apple's commercials and products apart from everyone else. Already I'm seeing these new ads not meeting that standard that he so passionately and vehemently demanded.

Exactly right. Let us not forget that after sifting through many offerings who selected the final releases. It is easy to reverse the logic but the fact remains what happened at Apple was ultimately a decision made with amazing foresight regardless of who ever was the creator of any particular concept. 85 Billion dollars in the bank doesn't come from making bad choices.
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post #7 of 48
Isaacson's book contains much more detail about this episode, including more details of Jobs' hands-on involvement in creating and tweaking the ad campaign.
post #8 of 48
Bottom line is that Steve green lighted a hugely successful campaign. End of story.

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post #9 of 48
What did he pour over the documents...

...or did he pore over them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...poured over personal documents and notes he had taken during the creative process to write the Forbes piece...
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post #10 of 48
He also hated the iMac name.
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

The man was certainly imperfect........

Aren't we all.......

That's what made him so real, so authentic.
post #12 of 48
Steve hated the preliminary ads he paid to capture the vision he came up with: `Think Different.'
post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"We played the spot once, and when it finished, Jobs said, 'It sucks! I hate it! Its advertising agency shit! I thought you were going to write something like "Dead Poets Society!" This is crap!,'" Siltanen remembers of the commercial pitch.

Jobs ultimately changed his mind, and "To the crazy ones" was made featuring a voice-over by Richard Dreyfuss.

This completely echoes Guy Kawasaki's presentation at MachTech last month:

"Steve can say something and reverse himself later, and you'll think he was right twice."
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

If he had truly believed that there wouldn't have been an iPod on Windows. In the end Steve came to believe it was right and so it happened. Just because he demanded to be convinced doesn't mean he was totally against something.

Yep. Seems to me he demanded a lot of justifying why someone wanted to do something, to be sure they were trying to o it just to do it or because everyone else was. And I find nothing wrong with that.


As for this article, it seems like a lot of ego by a guy that is looking to ge a little free press. And I'm really sick of all the rehash from the bio. I read it, so has most of the world. Let's move on. Frankly the rumors of a 500dpi computer display are more interesting

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post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by BC Kelly View Post

Just not sure why Siltanen's photo is there

Really? You just looked at the pictures and didn't actually read the story?

Perhaps because this article is about, "a lengthy piece written for Forbes by an advertising executive (Rob Siltanen) instrumental to the campaign's creation".
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

Really? You just looked at the pictures and didn't actually read the story?

Perhaps because this article is about, "a lengthy piece written for Forbes by an advertising executive (Rob Siltanen) instrumental to the campaign's creation".

Is your name, "Sheldon"??? He's oblivious to sarcasm too...\
post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

Isaacson's book contains much more detail about this episode

Yes but, "Rob Siltanen.notes that he was compelled to write the article when he saw discrepancies in Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography,"
post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

This completely echoes Guy Kawasaki's presentation at MachTech last month:

"Steve can say something and reverse himself later, and you'll think he was right twice."

Ha! I love that!
post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by boredumb View Post

Is your name, "Sheldon"??? He's oblivious to sarcasm too...\

Bazinga...
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

Bottom line is that Steve green lighted a hugely successful campaign. End of story.

That's right! Everything Steve did was perfect! Let's not hear anything more about it!!!!
post #21 of 48
I would hope that Mikey Campbell, who's name appears on this article, is distraught after reading the misleading headline which appears above his work:

"Steve Jobs Initially Hated Apple's 'Think Different' Campaign"

Even a cursory reading of the excepts used (taken from the original Forbes Magazine story) clearly show that Jobs hated what people would say about him, were Apple to run the campaign-- not that he hated the campaign itself.

In fact, near the end of Mikey's seventh paragraph, appears this telling quote, attributed to Mr. Jobs:

"...'What am I doing? Screw it. Its the right thing. Its great. Lets talk tomorrow.' " [Note: Emphasis added]

Right Thing? Great? Hardly words that equate to Hate... at least by my understanding of the terms.
post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

The man was certainly imperfect, even business-wise.

Aren't we all.......

That's what made him so real, so authentic.


You call him "authentic"? Rational people would call him bi-polar.

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post #23 of 48
I just don't know what to think and I need to get my hands on a copy of the biography. One of the things that concerns me is the repeated observation in the press that Jobs was "mercurial." Was Mr. Jobs actually just thinking out loud and initially dismissing something as shit (gut reaction) and then after thinking it through more thoroughly (reflecting, strategizing) realizing the genius behind it?

I really wonder if what Mr. Jobs had is duplicatable. Can Tim Cook fill Steve Jobs' shoes? I just hope you're right that Mr. Jobs was passionate and demanding - and further that this can be continued in the post-Jobs Apple. Because I really like their products and I want his legacy to endure.


Quote:
Originally Posted by owen35 View Post

After reading the biography, Steve's reaction of "It's agency shit" was a very common one and it doesn't surprise me that it happened here. What is good is that those who were behind these successful endeavors are finally starting to get their due as well. Obviously there were dozens of people involved in every campaign and Jobs' was not the only creative person having input. But it is without question Jobs' continuous demand for--excuse the pun--something different, that always set Apple's commercials and products apart from everyone else. Already I'm seeing these new ads not meeting that standard that he so passionately and vehemently demanded.
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obama View Post

That's right! Everything Steve did was perfect! Let's not hear anything more about it!!!!

Those are your words not mine.

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post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by big View Post

I just don't know what to think and I need to get my hands on a copy of the biography.

Well, you should.

I found it to be a pretty good read, and I also found that it was as engaging as any thriller that I've read, and ended up reading the whole thing in 2 days. The only thing that I found strange was that he seemed to cry a bit too often.
post #26 of 48
Yes, I'm looking forward to reading it!

I'm glad you replied. So, what do you think? Was Mr. Jobs mercurial as the press portrays and just incredibly lucky in his decisions? Or, is his streak of success sustainable? Will Mr. Cook, in your opinion, be able to carry the Apple torch assuring decades more of continued success?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Well, you should.

I found it to be a pretty good read, and I also found that it was as engaging as any thriller that I've read, and ended up reading the whole thing in 2 days. The only thing that I found strange was that he seemed to cry a bit too often.
post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by big View Post

Yes, I'm looking forward to reading it!

I'm glad you replied. So, what do you think? Was Mr. Jobs mercurial as the press portrays and just incredibly lucky in his decisions? Or, is his streak of success sustainable? Will Mr. Cook, in your opinion, be able to carry the Apple torch assuring decades more of continued success?

Steve Jobs was obviously a real smart guy, but he wasn't perfect of course. Nobody is.

As for being mercurial, yes it seems that he could be that at times, but I suppose that's what made him interesting. I don't mind controversial people and those who dare to "think different" will sometimes meet resistance by others who are too unenlightened to fully appreciate their ideas.

As for Tim Cook, I honestly don't know too much about him, but he seems to be a smart guy and he knows what he's doing. He doesn't seem to be a visionary like Steve Jobs, but he doesn't need to be one either. There are lots of talented people at Apple and i believe that they will continue to make great products for a long time to come.
post #28 of 48
As others have said from reading the book this is basically how he reacted to every idea shown to him. Before returning a few days later annoucing he had an amazing idea as if it was his own to the person who said it to him in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

If he had truly believed that there wouldn't have been an iPod on Windows. In the end Steve came to believe it was right and so it happened. Just because he demanded to be convinced doesn't mean he was totally against something.

I'm not so sure he came to belive it was right. Reading the book it was more like months of directors telling him and showing him it was the right thing to do before he got fed up of listening to them. The quote of what he said when he agreed to it was something like:

"I'm sick of listening to this shit, if you think it will sell do whatever the fuck you want" - Not exact quote but something along those lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Well, you should.

I found it to be a pretty good read, and I also found that it was as engaging as any thriller that I've read, and ended up reading the whole thing in 2 days. The only thing that I found strange was that he seemed to cry a bit too often.

I agree, it's a really good book and he sounds like a very interesting person to meet. You'd never want to be friends with the guy but to meet someone who is seemingly always rude unless he wants something from you, doesn't care about anyone else, lives in a mansion with no furnature, smells, wears no shoes, wants to make lots of money but seemingly has no use for it and also cry's a huge amount in meetings would be fairly unique.
post #29 of 48
Genius isn't having all of the answers. Genius is recognizing them when others would not. Yeah, Steve Jobs probably thought the ad was crap. And who knows. Maybe it was. We didn't see the version of the ad that he saw. We only saw the finished product. Regardless, Jobs got it right in the end. Only after Apple airs an ad like that would other companies see the genius in it. I'd say the same of the "Hi, I'm A Mac" ads. Those changed advertising forever.
post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

If he had truly believed that there wouldn't have been an iPod on Windows.

You're wrong.
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post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

Bottom line is that Steve green lighted a hugely successful campaign. End of story.

He wasn't the Messiah. Get over yourself.
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post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

He also hated the iMac name.

Exactly. Which was the most crucial and important product name in Apple's history. He preferred the name "MacMan" bwwwuhahah!!!
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post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Aren't we all.......

That's what made him so real, so authentic.

Aren't we all so real, so authentic? No.

Look, people around here thought the man was always right - he wasn't.
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post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Steve hated the preliminary ads he paid to capture the vision he came up with: `Think Different.'

Apple Inc. not Steve Inc.
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post #35 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

He preferred the name "MacMan" bwwwuhahah!!!

That sounds like a cool name!

I'll buy a MacMan in the future, if Apple were to release one.

Sooner or later, the whole "i" naming scheme is going to get tired.
post #36 of 48
So says one guy. From what I can gather, Jobs would call something "complete shit" if he wanted to be convinced of someone's conviction and solidity, not really because he didn't like it. I do the same thing with people when I'm heading a project, though not always so bluntly. It's a way of squeezing the best work out of someone when they're only giving 90%. It's also a way of weeding out those who lack the confidence to stand behind their work.
post #37 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2oh1 View Post

Genius isn't having all of the answers. Genius is recognizing them when others would not.

Is that what genius is? Besides, as others have said he didn't even recognize some of Apple's best ideas and gave into them like a bitching baby months later. Not: "actually, I think you were right after all", but more: "do whatever the fuck you want".
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post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

Really? You just looked at the pictures and didn't actually read the story?

Perhaps because this article is about, "a lengthy piece written for Forbes by an advertising executive (Rob Siltanen) instrumental to the campaign's creation".


It would explain the lengthy photo
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post #39 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Sooner or later, the whole "i" naming scheme is going to get tired.

I don't know about that. It's very elegant and very simple. People recognize it as associated with Apple. And the first Mac came out in 1984 and they are still using that term today as much as ever. If you ask me I see the term Mac disappearing before the i nomenclature.
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post #40 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by robogobo View Post

So says one guy. From what I can gather, Jobs would call something "complete shit" if he wanted to be convinced of someone's conviction and solidity, not really because he didn't like it.

Why won't you guys just call a spade a spade. You'll still sleep tonight if you admit Steve was actually wrong about stuff.
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