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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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 Apple?s 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 can?t do this. People already think I?m 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. It?s the right thing. It?s great. Let?s 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! 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. 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 didn?t create the advertising concepts, he does deserve an incredible amount of credit," Siltanen writes. "Without Steve Jobs there?s not a shot in hell that a campaign as monstrously big as this one would get even close to flying off the ground."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    irelandireland Posts: 17,771member
    And he thought the iPod on Windows was a stupid idea just before Apple did it. The man was certainly imperfect, even business-wise.
  • Reply 2 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 47
    .



    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 ?







    .
  • Reply 4 of 47
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,426member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,426member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,931member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 47
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member
    Bottom line is that Steve green lighted a hugely successful campaign. End of story.
  • Reply 8 of 47
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    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...



  • Reply 9 of 47
    He also hated the iMac name.
  • Reply 10 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 47
    Steve hated the preliminary ads he paid to capture the vision he came up with: `Think Different.'
  • Reply 12 of 47
    ktappektappe Posts: 808member
    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.



    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."
  • Reply 13 of 47
    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
  • Reply 14 of 47
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    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".
  • Reply 15 of 47
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,418member
    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...\
  • Reply 16 of 47
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    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,"
  • Reply 17 of 47
    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!
  • Reply 18 of 47
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by boredumb View Post


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



    Bazinga...
  • Reply 19 of 47
    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!!!!
  • Reply 20 of 47
    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. It?s the right thing. It?s great. Let?s talk tomorrow.' " [Note: Emphasis added]



    Right Thing? Great? Hardly words that equate to Hate... at least by my understanding of the terms.
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