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What makes Apple’s “Think Different” the GOAT of advertising campaigns

The GOAT. Lately, it seems you can’t walk by a water cooler, scan the local radio dial or scroll through YouTube without hearing a passionate debate over which athlete should be given the title as the greatest of all time. 

Lebron or Michael? Brady or Montana? Ruth or Mays? No matter what the sport, it’s always a fun game to play.

But why should the fun just be limited to sports? 

Today, I’m going to tell you why I think Apple’s “Think Different” Campaign is—hands down—the greatest advertising campaign of all time.

Setting the scene

Before I get into what makes “Think Different” so special, it’s important to put the campaign into context. 

First of all, the Apple we all know, love and depend on didn’t exist back when “Think Different” debuted in 1997. There was no iPhone, iPad, iPod or even iMac. The company itself was floundering, pour product launches and a lack of focus had it teetering on the brink of irrelevance. 

That said, Apple did have one thing going for it—the return of Steve Jobs.

Back at the helm of the company he helped found in the mid 70s, Jobs knew something drastic had to be done to get Apple back on track. Along with an improved product line, Jobs focused his attention on the company’s advertising—something he had previously had some success with thanks to a little commercial that ran during the Super Bowl back in 1984.

To help bring his vision for Apple to life, Jobs pitted Apple’s long-time agency, Chiat/Day, against two industry rivals in a good, old-fashioned pitch off—one that eventually not only helped Chiat/Day retain the account but change the course of Apple, the advertising industry and, not to be too dramatic, but … the world as we know it.

Why it works

Instead of simply saying who they are and what they stand for, sometimes a company can build a strong brand for itself by simply saying who they’re not. 

With “Think Different,” Apple positioned itself as the alternative to goliath, beige-coated companies like IBM (who coincidentally—or not—had for decades used the slogan, “THINK”) and made itself a brand that other outsiders could relate to and want to be associated with. 

Prior to “Think Different,” Apple was already a company that artists, musicians and other creatives were naturally drawn to, but by proudly letting its freak flag fly, its tribe’s connection to the company only deepened.  

“Think Different” was also not only a call to action, it was a call to arms. Those two, simple words contained so much power that you could easily imagine them emblazoned on a protest sign instead of a slick magazine advertisement.

But above all, “Think Different” is powerful because of the emotion it conveys. There are no product shots, no talk of their computers’ benefits, no talk of the product at all. 

It is a branding campaign, pure and simple.

OK, enough talk. It’s time to watch.

So where does all of that emotion come from? 


Incredible, slow-motion, black and white archival footage of some of the most iconic, trend-setting and world-altering  “crazy ones” in history? Check.

Swelling music bed? Check.

Copy that could have easily been lifted from the pages of  “On the Road?” Check.  (In fact, many people have even wrongly attributed the lines of the commercial to Kerouac himself.)

Add in the warm, yet oddly defiant, voice of Richard Dreyfus and the campaign’s cornerstone, one-minute TV commercial is—in at least my mind—perfect. 

Judge for yourself.

Ok, that was just the TV spot. Surely Apple would show the product or list its specification in print applications.


The creative geniuses behind the campaign (if you are marketer and don’t know the name Lee Clow, who just last week announced his retirement, it’s time to get yourself educated) built on the emotion contained within the TV commercial the print components of the campaign featured powerful black and white images of the commercial’s stars (along with a slew of other boat-rocking historical figures) accompanied only by the words “Think Different” and an understated Apple logo.

The results

In 1998, Apple and the Chiat/Day team won an Emmy for best TV commercial, and in 2000, the “Think Different” campaign won the Grand Effie award for the most-effective advertising campaign in America.

Today, original posters from the campaign demand hundreds of dollars on eBay, there are entire websites devoted to its every nuance and creatives like me cue up the spot on YouTube anytime they need a nice little shot of inspiration.

But beyond all of the accolades and fanfare, great marketing campaigns deliver results, and I for one believe that without “Think Different,” Apple would not be the company it is today.

Have your own thoughts on what marketing campaign should be crowned the GOAT? Let us hear about it.

The post What makes Apple’s “Think Different” the GOAT of advertising campaigns appeared first on Lindeman Collective | Marketing & Advertising Agency in Wichita, Kansas.

This post first appeared on Lindeman Collective, please read the originial post: here

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What makes Apple’s “Think Different” the GOAT of advertising campaigns


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