What happens when you pair two creative geniuses? Introducing one of our favourite collaborations of all time: Steve Jobs and Lee Clow.

Steve Jobs

Now recognised as the charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution. Famously co-founding Apple in 1976, less famously resigning in 85 and rejoining in 97 to return an ailing company to profitability (a decade later he was named the most powerful man in business by Fortune magazine).

Lee Clow

Created possibly one of the all-time greatest adverts for television in 1984 for Apple’s Macintosh and has continued creating global masterpieces that you can recognise today in Energizer, Sony, Adidas and many others.

“Think Different”

The collaboration truly started in 1997, when Jobs took the helm of Apple and offered up his advertising account to a series of agencies. It was apparently Lee’s cool and relaxed demeanour that prevented any brash interactions when Steve, met TBWA/Chiat/Day (the acclaimed agency Lee was the CEO of).

Of course, it was Lee’s pitch of the 97 “think different” campaign that won the tenure over a small host of others. So after apparently, a small amount of deliberation (2 minutes tops in the meeting room), Jobs went for it. It was this campaign that turned things around for Apple. This one campaign that got the Apple faithful all fired up again. This one campaign showed the press that Apple still had a pulse. The ‘Think Different’ campaign took the consumers off the fence as the Apple brand was now thought of in a whole new way.

The Collaboration

This collaboration is way more convoluted than just the two geniuses named above. A whole host of people played their part. A full agency of creatives backed by the corporate resource is only a small part. It excludes interpersonal or family-based support. But, the two were known as leaders and visionaries for a reason. It was through their administration, pulling together all the ideas, and pooling all the right skills that this campaign could take off.

Although simplifying Jobs’ role as pulling the trigger, although true, probably dilutes the importance of his part in ‘Think Different’. Imagine it was more like this mission was to aim a heavy Barrett .50 calibre sniper at a target just over a mile away (debatably further with the state of his company), all the while still considering wind strength, elevation, pressure measurements and the Coriolis effect. However, although Steve was a decent shot, he had Lee Clow as his spotter. The spotter’s’scope has a much wider field of view and calls in the measurements for the sniper to adjust. With Clow’s incredible creative approach of leaving nothing unjustified, paired with Jobs’ passion and drive, they managed to form a strong alliance where belief in each other’s direction cemented the partnership.

Success through Collaboration

Within 12 months of the ‘Think Different’ campaign launch, Apple’s stock price tripled. In 97 Apple was in a world of trouble, you really don’t have to look far now to see its strength and prowess.

In 2011, their 30-year journey culminated with the death of Jobs.

The ‘think different’ campaign was a celebration of creative geniuses collaborating for one of the greatest business turnarounds of all time. For 30 years, the advertising and tech legends collaborated to create some of the most iconic commercials in advertising history. From iPod shadow silhouettes to the ‘think different’ slogan, Apple’s branding was both simple and memorable.