Think Differently


Steve wanted a commercial that made his customers feel as special as he feels. He wanted his market to be both elevated and united by the courage to be different. His first commercial as the returning sire of Apple was ‘Think Different’. Despite the title’s bad grammar, the voiceover was inspired:
Here’s to the crazy ones: the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes – the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them; but 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 ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.
This passage was later written on the wall of Apple head-quarters.[1]
One of those “troublemakers” founded a site called Wikileaks. Julian Assange sits in a courtroom, he opens his laptop, on its cover, the Apple logo glows brightly. As he's hauled away to Her Majesty’s Prison Wandsworth, Julian takes the number one spot in Time Magazine's poll for Person of The Year. You can disagree with him; but the only thing you can’t do is ignore him because he changes things.
Think Different was officially scripted by Ken Segall. However, he spent a great deal of time intimating with Steve while writing it. Ken stated to Bloomberg, “Steve was aware of every detail, literally every word, every image”.[2] Ken’s career is riding on the idea that he is the auteur of this multi-award winning commercial. Maybe he wrote it; or maybe he didn’t. The words could have easily been Steve’s.
During the one-minute commercial, we watch thoughtful slow motion footage chosen by Steve. We see Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King Junior, Richard Branson, John Lennon, R. Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Picasso. Some of these names are relative unknowns. The typical advertising exec would not have chosen them, but Steve wanted them there. The commercial ends with a young girl opening her eyes to the world around her.
This was a mature departure from Steve’s grim 1984 melodrama. It revealed a company that would rather nurture talent than smash enemies. The child in the end shot was an important idea to Steve. He once told a Playboy journalist that when faced with a computer, '"Older people sit down and ask, “What is it?” but a child asks, “What can I do with it?”'.[3]
The first outsider to see the new ads was Newsweek's Katie Hafner. She arrived at Apple's headquarters at ten on a Friday morning for an interview with Steve. He kept her waiting a long time. Finally, he emerged. His chin was covered by stubble. He was exhausted from having stayed up all night editing footage for the "Think Different" television spot… Now the montage was finally complete.
Steve sat with Katie and they watched the commercial.
Steve was crying.
"That's what I love about him," Katie recalls. "It wasn't trumped up. Steve was genuinely moved by that stupid ad."[4]

Who better to narrate the commercial than Richard Dreyfuss? Richard was a conscientious objector during Vietnam conflict. He was constantly ridiculed by casting directors during his years as a struggling actor. Richard kept a list of their names to remind himself that one day he would find success. The Oscar award-winner continues to be an unstoppable campaigner for individual rights. He was also was one of the first AppleMasters – a group of celebrities selected by Steve who think different. Richard didn’t just plug apple, he talked about it like he’d found Jesus: “I’m a better person. I’m a more creative person. My reach is greater. My grasp is greater with an Apple computer.”[5]
Steve began connecting famous icons with Apple to bring sexy back. He had to make good with Muhammad Ali since Gil’s marathon speech last year left no time for Ali to take the stage. Steve had a lot in common with The Champ. Both men have had to fight bigger, but slower, opponents when everyone else thought they would lose. Both men mix politics and commerce. Both men have smart mouths. Both men are brand names. Steve released a ‘Think Different’ commercial dedicated to Ali. It was simple un-edited training footage from his 1974 comeback fight with George Foreman. The footage revealed Ali taunting an imagined foe:

Back up sucker! Back up.
Come get me sucker, I’m dancing, I’m dancing!
Follow me! No, I’m not there, I’m here! Whup. Here! Here!
You out, sucker!
 Ali won the fight.

[1] Keefe, B. (2006, March 25) Market wants to know Apple will stay fresh after Jobs. Sydney Morning Herald.

[2] Bloomberg.com (2010, October 14) Bloomberg Game Changers: Steve Jobs [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/video/63690380/

[3] Sheff, D. (1985, February 1) Playboy Interview: Steven Jobs. Playboy Magazine

[4] Deutschman, A. (2000) The Second Coming of Steve Jobs. New York: Broadway.

[5] Apple eNews (2000, July 13) Volume 3 Issue 13. Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/enews/2000/07/13enews1.html

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