Steve Jobs wasn’t happy.
Sitting inside a small conference room at Apple Computer’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, the company’s founder had just unleashed a profanity-laden tirade directed towards Rob Siltanen, creative director and managing partner of an advertising agency called TBWA/Chiat/Day.
Weeks earlier, Siltanen, along with his colleague, Lee Clow, had successfully pitched and won the Apple account, impressing Jobs and his small team with their creative and innovative campaign ideas.
It was the summer of 1997, and Apple was floundering – hemorrhaging money and in desperate need of cash and a turn-around in sales.
Today, Apple is worth over $2 trillion, but back in the late 1990s the company was a shell of what it would someday be. Jobs had only just returned following a ten-year exile. He had dreams and big plans, but at this point, there was no iMac, iPad or iPhone.
Rob Siltanen once described Jobs as “a mix between Michelangelo, Miles van der Rohe and Henry Ford – with some John McEnroe and Machiavelli thrown in.” Creatives can be like that – difficult, demanding and even obstinate, as evidenced by the Apple founder’s agitated reaction to the new campaign copy he was being asked to review.
After listening to and talking with Jobs and his team, Siltanen and Clow had enthusiastically and confidently settled on the theme, “Think Different” – a nod to the computer company’s maverick reputation as well as a contrast to IBM’s rival campaign, “Think IBM.”
Only Jobs hated it and really let them have it.
But several rounds of revisions later, Steve Jobs had a change of heart. He greenlighted the campaign. Now it was time to hire someone to voice the manifesto and attach it to images for a television ad.
Robin Williams, a personal friend of Jobs who had actually inspired the writing of the spot based on his role in the movie, Dead Poet’s Society, turned it down. Richard Dreyfuss was the next choice to voice the spot.
Here was the copy:
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. And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
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.
Those thoughts were written to sell computers, and sell them they did. Within a year, Apple’s stock price tripled, leading to the release of colored iMacs and the explosion of a phenomenon that continues to this day.
Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign is now legendary, but I also believe it’s instructive for Christian believers in 2021.
By the world’s standards, we are the crazy ones. We are misfits, rebels and even troublemakers. More and more lately, we feel like round pegs being forced into square holes.
Today’s headlines give us headaches – and for good reason.
Multi-millennia beliefs are suddenly called bigoted and hateful.
We believe God runs the universe, not men and women. We believe there are two, immutable genders, that all life is sacred, and that one-man, one-woman marriage is a godly covenant.
We follow God’s rules, not ones contrived to conform to modern mores. We believe God, while constant, is always on the move. He’s not here to serve as some cosmic butler – He invites us to join Him on a grand journey.
And yes, we believe, with God’s help and favor, that we can change the world.
It’s time to think different than the world.
As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
It’s time to stand tall in the face of the bullies and the boisterous agitators trying to upend Judeo-Christian norms.
Photo from Sukrita Rungroj / Shutterstock.com