Aug 10

The different-thinking iCEO

A classic video of “interim CEO” Steve Jobs has turned up as the result of an archaeological dig. (A discovery credited to John Paczkowski at All Things Digital.) In it, we see Steve introducing the Think different campaign to a group inside Apple 13 years ago, shortly after his return from exile.

Though a few sites have linked to the video, none have noted its exact place in history. This is actually the first moment that the Think different campaign was shared with a soul outside the group who’d been working on it.

If Steve seems more subdued than usual, there’s good reason. We kept him up past 3:00 am the night before, going back and forth with final revisions to the commercial he unveils at the end of this video.

In the end though, these are merely production notes. What’s really important is what Steve had to say. His presentation is both a primer on the value of brand advertising and an insight into the soul of a company. If you dismiss it as yet another example of Steve Jobs programming his automatons, well — you just don’t get it. This thinking is what separates Apple from the hundreds of companies who simply churn out products.

But there’s something else about this video, something that makes its content all the more remarkable. Most CEOs reject the idea of pure brand advertising even in successful times — and here is Steve making the pitch when Apple was on its deathbed. Rather than circle the wagons, Steve went on the offensive. He spent millions simply to tell the world what Apple stands for, believing that only a strong brand could propel the company through tough times.

I can pretty much guarantee that most of the marketing people who watch this video will go to bed tonight wishing they had a client like this. I can absolutely guarantee that only a tiny handful ever will.

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  • This is an amazing & awesome video.

  • rob

    Thank you Ken, for providing the context and as well as the insights into the subtlety of Steve’s (and ultimately Apple’s) passionate and extraordinary talents, including his ability to “Think Different”.

  • Stephen Sonnenfeld

    Hands down, the single best creative presentation and articulation of the virtues of brand advertising that I’ve ever seen.

    Brought chills.

  • ChuckO

    I’ve always wondered about the use of the images of the folks in the campaign. Do you have to get a release from them or their estates? Did any money change hands? Can you just use them since your celebrating them?

  • How can you not stand up and applause after this?? “but if they ever had used a computer, it would have been a Mac”..
    Marketing at its best… Who would need to go to marketing classes after this.?

  • ken segall

    Nothing is for free in this world :) You definitely need a release before you can use these people’s images. Normally, in such cases, the estates accept a contribution of computers or cash to the charity of their choice.

    The biggest problem was getting people over the hump of being in a commercial at all. Most hear the c-word and run the other way for fear of diminishing their property. Since there was no precedent for this spot, we had to convince the estates that this commercial was a tribute to those who have changed the world, and there would be no shilling of computers. Still, we were turned down by quite a few. Who needs you, Mother Teresa! (Just kidding, we didn’t ask her.)