10 years after “Think different.”

Think Brand

By fall of 1997, Steve Jobs had completed his bloodbath at Apple Computer, having terminated former CEO Gil Amelio, strangled the Macintosh clones, taken blood money from Bill Gates, and knifed the Newton. Now it was time for a shower and a fresh face. To that end, ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day was hired to come up with the second most famous Apple ad. HangZhou Night Net

On September 28th, 1997, the "Think different" campaign debuted in video and print. In typical Jobsian fashion, it was jaw-droppingly over the top. If picking the bones of famous and historic figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. through a montage of black-and-white film footage did not get across the elitist subtext, Richard Dreyfuss—who ironically suffers from bi-polar disorder—read the following free verse poem that appears to have been an also-ran in a high school poetry contest.

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.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some 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

While the campaign was critically acclaimed, like every other ad campaign by Apple, it failed to have any measurable impact on sales. The campaign was eventually and mercifully retired in 2002, replaced by the "Switch" campaign, made famous in its own way by an apparently stoned teenager "beeping."

On the 10th anniversary of the "Think different" ad campaign, it would be well to remember another commercial, one that exemplifies the other Apple. If "Think different" glorifies the best among us—and by transference ourselves should we use Apple products—a series of commercials (found here) from 1984 speaks to those not worthy of a poster.

Macintosh, the computer for the rest of us.

In the last 10 years, it is the populist Apple that has given Unix a friendly face, put a thousand songs in every pocket, and now the Internet too. Let's have 10 more years of that Apple and leave the posters to the collectors.

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