Entering college, an aptitude test suggested two careers for me: “Chamber of Commerce Executive” and “Advertising Man.” Uninspired by both, I opted to be a drummer instead, Still, eleven years later, I ended up in advertising anyway. Maybe there’s something to those tests after all.
At this point, I’ve slaved over a hot keyboard far longer than I will ever admit—having served as global agency creative director on behalf of Apple, NeXT, IBM, Intel, Dell and others.
I continue to consult with major brands for creative, branding and product naming. Here are a few of my favorite moments of Apple advertising, along with some personal notes of explanation.
Upon his return to Apple In 1997, Steve Jobs promptly fired ad agency BBDO (John Sculley’s pick) and hooked up again with the legendary adman Lee Clow at what was then TBWA/Chiat/Day—the same agency that had launched Macintosh many years prior. Having worked with Steve for eight years as the agency creative director for NeXT, I rejoined Chiat to lead the creative team on Apple.
With the introduction of iMac at least eight months off, we set out to create a brand campaign. Think different was designed to remind the world what Apple stands for, re-inspire Apple employees and act as a foundation upon which we would launch amazing new products to come.
Origin of the i
Steve’s first order of business when he returned the company was to create a computer that would embody Apple’s values. In the lab, it was simply called C1.
In a day when getting onto the internet could be a serious challenge, the concept of C1 was “the easy way to the internet.” Being an all-in-one computer, there was virtually no setup. Turn it on and it guides you into creating an internet account and email address. Impressive! (For its time.)
Like all things in the world of Steve Jobs, every detail had to be perfect—starting with the name. Inexplicably, Steve was enamored with one name in particular: “MacMan.” The only way to talk him down was to go off and come up with something better.
It didn’t happen immediately. Steve hated the name iMac in our first presentation, and only disliked it (a step up!) in our second presentation. Only after he had the name put onto a model, and shared it with his inner circle, did he agree to go with the i.
I wish I could say we were all so smart that we knew how important that little i would be. But we did believe it was a foundational naming device that had some “potential.” Sure did.
Apple’s last Super Bowl
When people talk about Apple and the Super Bowl, 1984 is usually the main topic. The introduction of the Macintosh was a special moment in Apple history, and in advertising history as well—thought by many to be the best commercial ever made.
Steve Hayden was one of the driving forces behind 1984. He was also my mentor, giving my first chance to create ads for Apple.
I’ve created only one Super Bowl commercial in my life, and it was also for Apple. Compared to 1984, it’s a mere blip in Apple history. But, because it was one of the most fun projects I ever worked on, I include it here.
As the year 2000 approached, the world was on edge because of what become known as the Y2K Bug. It was discovered that the PCs of the world were never set up to deal with the turn of the century, and there was a danger that at the turn of the century, businesses around the world could face disaster.
When Steve Jobs mentioned to me that Macintosh computers did not have this problem, we started to talk about the value of running a commercial to that effect.
As a lifelong fan of sci-fi and Stanley Kubrick, I got to make a Y2K commercial for Apple featuring the menacing computer HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
If you’d like to read the entire story behind Apple’s HAL commercial, I wrote about it in a recent blog post.