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Idea Generation

Think Different: Apple & Contrarianism

While "changing things" is a noble cause and dream-worthy accomplishment, it's pretty damn tough. A look at Apple's legendary "Think Different" campaign.


In the late 1990’s, Apple released a milestone marketing message and subsequent ad that placed contrarianism on a pedestal. The ad was constructed by an ad team of creative professionals at TBWA Chiat Day in Los Angeles. Beyond establishing Apple as a company that served the creative community, the “Think Different” message served as an encouraging and invigorating force for creative professionals.The ad was meant as “an emotional celebration of creativity,” explained Lee Clow, the Chief Creative Officer of TBWA Worldwide at the time. What was first a popular ad has now become a 60 second sound bite that encourages and invigorates creative professionals that are overcoming the burdens ofcontrarianism in their pursuit to make ideas happen (watch the spot in the gallery, above).The ad was born in 1997 upon the return of Steve Jobs to Apple. Apple wanted to find a way to communicate a unique product to a unique audience relatively unfamiliar with Apple’s products. As Clow tells the story, “One weekend we walked into a room and saw ‘Think different’ attached to Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Einstein,” paying tribute “to creativity and genius by saluting the kind of people who think and change things.” Others involved with conceiving the campaign were Rob Siltanen, creative director; Jessica Schulman, art director, and Craig Tanimoto, copywriter.

While “changing things” is a noble cause and dream-worthy accomplishment, it is pretty damn tough. The roller-coaster of highs and lows between any idea and success is certainly sickening. We all need a bit of invigoration once in a while.

Excerpted from the video:

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,
About the only thing that you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Further discussing his vision for the ad, Clow suggests that Think Different pushes you to “be creative, imagine something that hasn’t been done before…Personally, I hope the advertising campaign that we did, that celebrates people who artistically or imaginatively did creative things, could become part of the school curriculum so that kids don’t forget what it means to think out of the box.”

Fortune always has favored the bold, but few of us are bold enough to work against the grain to make ideas happen.


Watch the 60-second video here.

Credits / Via:Electric-Escape S.Elliot, New York Times

Comments (3)
  • sbelsky

    Likely my favorite commercial of all time…

  • Midwest Stud

    Sad thing is, the creative director stole the idea from a student

  • Charlotte Busa

    Amazing. So inspiring. 

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