Keep it simple, pare things down to the essence. Those were the
basics. He could be volatile -- more like an erupting volcano --
when he didn't get his way, and that extended to advertising.
Here's what he said to the TBWA/Media Arts Lab
creative guy responsible for the iPad advertising: "Your
commercials suck. The iPad is revolutionizing the world, and we
need something big. You've given me small shit." He said the ads
looked like a Pottery Barn commercial.
Mr. Isaacson's compelling book on Steve Jobs shows how a CEO can
build the world's most valuable company by getting involved in
everything. All the elements were equally
important—engineering, design (even of the packing boxes),
advertising and marketing, distribution (the Apple stores) and
presentation. He was nasty to people (not just subordinates), yet
he cried when he was wounded or touched by something or
For instance, when he was talking to Mr. Isaacson about the
contribution of Lee Clow, the legendary creative and protector of
Apple advertising, Mr. 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 10 years. Yet here he was, he was pitching his heart out,
because he loved Apple as much as we did."
That's when Mr. Clow and his team at TBWA/Chiat/Day came up with "Think
Different." Mr. Jobs said about that campaign: "Every once in a
while, I find myself in the presence of purity -- purity of spirit
and love -- and I always cry. ... I cried in my office as he was
showing me the idea, and I still cry when I think about it."
Do you remember the opening lines? "Here's to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the
square holes. ... 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. Because
the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world
are the ones who do."
The line, pushing the human race forward, came from Mr. Jobs
himself. He even did voice-over work for the commercial, but at the
last minute he decided to go with the one Richard Dreyfuss did.
"If we use my voice, when people find out, they will say it's
about me," he told Mr. Clow. "It's not; it's about Apple."
Mr. Isaacson wrote that after the "Think Different" ads, Mr.
Jobs held a three-hour meeting every Wednesday afternoon with his
top agency, marketing and communications people.
"There's not a CEO on the planet who deals with marketing the
way Steve Jobs does," Mr. Clow told Mr. Isaacson. "Every Wednesday
he approves each new commercial, print ad, and billboard." He even
took his agency guys to Apple 's design studio to view its
One of Mr. Jobs' basic tenets was the fewer the products, the
better. When he returned to Apple after being forced out 10 years
earlier, "he began slashing away at models and products," Mr.
Isaacson said. He cut 70% of them. "You are bright people. You
shouldn't be wasting your time on crappy products," Mr. Jobs told
one Apple team.
His idea at the time was to make four products: a consumer
desktop computer, a professional desktop, a consumer portable and a
professional portable. In his first year back, he laid off 3,000
people and got out of the business of making printers and servers.
And he killed Newton, the personal digital assistant.
If Mr. Jobs waxed poetic about "Think Different," he was much
less enthusiastic about Apple 's iPad advertising. In fact, he and
TBWA's James Vincent
got into a heated shouting match over the direction (or lack
thereof) of the advertising.
"What do you want?" Mr. Vincent asked Mr. Jobs. "You've not been
able to tell me what you want."
"I don't know," Mr. Jobs replied. "You have to bring me
something new. Nothing you've shown me is even close."
The confrontation between the two men continued to escalate.
"You've got to show me some stuff, and I'll know it when I see it,"
Mr. Jobs finally said.
"Oh, great, let me write that on my brief for my creative
people. I'll know it when I see it," Mr. Vincent countered.
Mr. Jobs is my hero because he continually made his products the
hero. "We went down the lifestyle path," Mr. Clow said, but then
Steve Jobs "told us to get back to the Apple voice. It's a simple,
honest voice," showing all the things the iPad could do.
And that , in the end, was all that was needed.