Technology projects were years behind schedule. The company’s leadership was clueless about what to do. Customers were up in arms over Macs that didn’t work. Windows 95 had done the unthinkable and made Apple irrelevant to all but the die hard creatives who loved their Macs. Today, Apple is the most valuable brand on planet earth, the highest valued company on planet earth, and owes this prominence to one man. Who is that man?
Who? Seriously? Who?
Forbes contributor Patrick Hanlon thinks Apple was saved back in the last century by Craig Tanimoto. I know what you’re thinking. Who? Seriously? Who?
Tanimoto is one of the advertising geniuses behind Apple’s famed “Think Different™” campaign which is also credited with helping to right Apple’s ship in the eyes of the company’s most devout fans and customers.
But even after eighteen years since the “Think different” campaign first appeared on walls everywhere, Tanimoto has never fully taken credit for the two words he came up with in 1997, when he was an art director at Apple’s advertising agency Chiat-Day. In fact, even though Tanimoto has been rewarded for the campaign he initiated to help save Apple—and even though several other people have obliquely accepted credit, Craig Tanimoto humbly accepts an authorship that is his, and his alone.
Let’s call that whole thing what it is. Bullcrap.
Even if Tanimoto created those two iconic words and attached them to various creative geniuses of the past, neither Think Different™ nor Tanimoto should be credited with saving Apple.
Come on. Do we really need to go there? Steve Jobs saved Apple. It’s just that simple. Without Jobs Apple would have fallen to footnote status as one of America’s great technology stories that ended a dismal failure. Jobs’ willingness to sell his flagging software company, NeXT Computer, to Apple in late 1996 got Apple’s co-founder back in the door and put his own executive management team in charge of Apple’s technology and operational future. Only when he threatened to leave Apple entirely that same year did the company’s board see the light and put him in charge of resurrecting Apple.
Craig Tanimoto and the Think Different campaign were minor cogs in the engine Jobs rebuilt. Think Different? It’s a great slogan. But one could easily say the copy for Apple’s TV commercials had more impact.
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.
That memorable ad copy was written by Rob Siltanen and Lee Clow and the ad campaign itself re-established Apple as a creative technology powerhouse and it won all kinds of awards.
But the words Think Different did not save Apple. Steve Jobs did that, but not singlehandedly. Jobs, left in the wilderness nearly a dozen years while exhausting much of his personal fortune on NeXT and Pixar, had gained Moses-like discipline and wisdom which were used over the next dozen years or so to shape and mold Apple into a technology juggernaut the likes of which the world has never seen.
Sure, Jobs had help from an amazing group of engineers, designers, and executives, but anyone who argues differently about his impact on the companies resurrection and fortunes is truly thinking different, and I don’t mean that in a good way.