In memory of Steve Jobs we would like to share the story of one of the most successful campaigns in the history of advertising. It’s the story of Apple’s ‘Think different’ campaign. We are not only talking about an original idea or a beautiful ad, the campaign actually worked, and how… During the 90’s Apple was in a crisis, and with only one campaign they have managed to climb out of this slump. Steve Jobs once said: “It only took 15 . . . 30 . . . maybe 60 seconds to re-establish Apple’s counter-culture image that it had lost during the 90s”.

Here you can see the television ad, but make sure you check out the amazing print campaign.


In 1977 Steve Jobs founded Apple together with Steve Wozniak, Ronald Wayne and Mike Markkula. In 1985 Jobs resigned from Apple after losing a struggle with the board of directors. From that point on John Sculley, the CEO of Apple, made significant changes to the marketing strategy. He was not fond of the legendary 1984 ad. But Jobs, Bill Campbell, Steve Wozniak, and Lee Clow (the creative director at Chiat/Day) convinced him to air it anyway and it became one of the most popular TV commercials in history. In 1985 Apple was not so lucky with it’s Lemmings ad, it was a complete flop. This led to the termination of the contract with Chiat/Day, which had handled Apple’s PR for its entire history.

From that point on Apple focussed on more conventional ads. Maybe this was the cause (maybe not) of the deterioration of Apple’s image. By that time Apple had lost hundreds of millions and cut thousands of jobs. Steve Jobs was disgusted by this and slowly regained control of the company. One of his top priorities was a renewal of Apple’s image. Lee Clow and his team from TBWA Chiat/Day said that Apple should be aligned with the creativity of personalities and people making an impact on the twentieth century. They presented a new slogan and for Apple’s ads: Think Different (perhaps a reference to IBM’s famous “THINK” slogan).

Jobs gave the group 17 days after approval to complete the entire campaign. That included the television commercial and billboards. A similar campaign for another client would have taken much longer just to get rights to the images. But Jobs pulled some strings to get usage rights from celebrities including Joan Baez (Jobs’ ex-girlfriend) and Yoko Ono (once a neighbour). If Clow had approached these people, he would be another adman. When Jobs called, he was a friend.

It all begun with the television commercial, which first aired on Sept. 28 1997, followed by the print ads, billboards and posters. In 1998 the television spot won the second annual primetime Emmy Award for best commercial from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). The ad also won a Belding, a Silver Lion at Cannes. The long-term campaign won an Effie award for marketing effectiveness.

The Campaign

The campaign consists of two main parts, there is a television commercial and a print campaign.

The television commercial features black and white video footage of significant historical people of the past, including (in order) Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr.,Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), R. Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso. The commercial ends with an image of a young girl, Shaan Sahota, opening her closed eyes, as if to see the possibilities before her.

The text of the campaign is narrated by the American actor Richard Dreyfuss. Rumours say that Steve Jobs wrote the original text, for this spot it’s been changed a little.

Text: 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 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.

Above you could see the 1 minute version of the television ad. But there has also been a 30 second version. It used many of the people above, but closed with Jerry Seinfeld, instead of the young girl. This commercial aired only once, during the series finale of Seinfeld.

The print campaign was much more elaborate than the television commercial. Over the years there have been dozens of different personalities on the posters. In the end it has become difficult to say which images are original, and which are fake. Below you can find 30 different posters from the Think different campaign which I believe are originals (please correct me if I’m wrong). After the first campaign, Apple started sending complimentary posters to public schools across the nation featuring different celebrities (including Pablo Picasso, Jane Goodall, and Ron Howard) to hang in classrooms. The complete packets now sell for hundreds of dollars on some websites.

Albert Einstein
A German-born Swiss-American theoretical physicist, philosopher and author who is widely regarded as one of the most influential and best known scientists and intellectuals of all time. He is often regarded as the father of modern physics.

Alfred Hitchcock
An English filmmaker and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. He is considered as a master of suspense and horror films.

Amelia Earhart
An American Aviatrix who made a solo flight across the Atlantic, followed by several solo long-distance record flights in the United States. She was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Ansel Adams
Was an American photographer and environmentalist, best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West.

Bill Bernbach
Was a legendary figure in the history of American advertising. He was one of the three founders of Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) and directed ad campaigns such as “Think Small” for Volkswagen Beetle.

Bob Dylan
Is an American singer-songwriter and musician. He has been a major figure in popular music for five decades.

Buzz Aldrin
On July 20, 1969, he was the second person to set foot on the Moon, following mission commander Neil Armstrong.

Charlie Chaplin
Was an English comic actor and film director of the silent film era, and became one of the best-known film stars in the world before the end of the First World War.

Dalai Lama
Tenzin Gyatso is the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama. He is a practising member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as the world’s most famous Buddhist monk, and is leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Was the First Lady of the United Statesfrom 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights.

Francis Ford Coppola
Is an Italian-American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is primarily known for directing the Godfather films and Apocalypse Now.

Flik the ant
The main protagonist of the Pixar Studios animated film A Bug’s Life. Flik is a pavement ant with grand ideas on how to improve life, but he is constantly put down by other, more serious ants for his ideas and inventions that do not seem to work. Steve Jobs is also the CEO of Pixar, that’s probably why they used this image.

Frank Capra
was a Sicilian-born American film director and a creative force behind a number of films of the 1930s and 1940s.

Jackie Robinson
was the first African American Major League Baseball (MLB) player of the modern era.

Jane Goodall
Is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. She is well-known for her 45-year study of chimpanzee social and family interactions in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, and for founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

Jim Henson & Kermit
Was one of the most widely known puppeteers in American history and was the creator of The Muppets. On this image he is posing together with Kermit his most famous Muppet creation, first introduced in 1955. Kermit is the main protagonist of many Muppet projects, most notably as the host of The Muppet Show.

Jimi Hendrix
Was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is often considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in the history of rock music.

Joan Baez
An American folk singer, songwriter and activist. Baez has a distinctive vocal style, with a strong vibrato, and her recordings have included topical songs and material dealing with social issues.

John Huston
Was an American filmmaker, screenwriter and actor.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono
The famous Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono Together invented a form of peace protest by staying in bed while being filmed and interviewed.

Mahatma Ghandi
Was the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of India during the Indian independence movement. He was one of the gentlest of men, a devout and almost mystical Hindu, but he had an iron core of determination. Nothing could change his convictions.

Maria Callas
An American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century.

Martha Graham
An American dancer choreographer regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance, whose influence on dance can be compared to the influence Stravinsky had on music, Picasso had on the visual arts, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture.

Miles Davis
Was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer.
Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of almost every major development in jazz from World War II to the 1990s.

Muhamed Ali
An American boxer and three-time World Heavyweight Champion, who is widely considered one of the greatest heavyweight championship boxers of all time.

Nelson Mandela
Served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, the first South-African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist.

Pablo Picasso
Was a Spanish painter, draughtsman, and sculptor. He is best known for co-founding the Cubist movement and for the wide variety of styles embodied in his work.

Paul Rand
An American graphic designer, best known for his corporate logo designs, including the logos for IBM, UPS, Westinghouse, ABC, and Steve Jobs’ NeXT.

Ted Turner
An American media mogul and philanthropist. As a businessman, he is known as founder of the cable news network CNN, the first dedicated 24-hour cable news channel.

Thomas Edison
An American inventor, scientist and businessman who developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electriclight bulb.

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