Think different

Apple's "Think different" logo

"Think different." was an advertising slogan for Apple, Inc. (then Apple Computer, Inc.) in 1997 created by the Los Angeles office of advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day.[1] The slogan has been widely taken as a response to IBM's slogan "Think".[2][3][4] It was used in a television commercial, several print advertisements, and a number of TV promos for Apple products. Apple's use of the slogan was discontinued with the start of the iMac G4 in 2002.

Television commercials

Significantly shortened versions of the text were used in two television commercials, known as "Crazy Ones", directed by Chiat\Day's Jennifer Golub who also shared the art director credit with Jessica Schulman Edelstein and Yvonne Smith. According to Jobs’s biography, two versions were created before it first aired: one with Richard Dreyfuss voiceover, and one with Steve Jobs voiceover.[5] In the morning of the first air date, Jobs decided to go with the Dreyfuss version, stating that it was about Apple, not about himself. It was edited at Venice Beach Editorial, by Dan Bootzin, Chiat\Day's in-house editor,[6] and post-produced by Hunter Conner.

The text of the various versions of this commercial were written by creative director Rob Siltanen and copywriter Ken Segall along with input from many on the team at the agency and at Apple. Music was composed by Chip Jenkins for Elias Arts.[7]

The one-minute commercial featured black-and-white footage of 17 iconic 20th century personalities. In order of appearance they were: Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mohandas 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 opening her closed eyes, as if making a wish. The final clip is taken from the All Around The World version of the "Sweet Lullaby" music video, directed by Tarsem Singh; the young girl is Shaan Sahota, Singh's niece.[8]

The thirty-second commercial was a shorter version of the previous one, using 11 of the 17 personalities, but closed with Jerry Seinfeld, instead of the young girl. In order of appearance: Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon, Martha Graham, Muhammad Ali, Alfred Hitchcock, Mahatma Gandhi, Jim Henson, Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso, followed by Jerry Seinfeld. This version aired only once, during the series finale of Seinfeld.

Another early example of the "Think Different" ads was on February 4, 1998, months before taking the colors out of the logo, where a commercial aired with a snail carrying an Intel Pentium II chip on its back moving slowly, as the Power Macintosh G3 claims that it is twice as fast as Intel's Pentium II Processor.[9]

Concept, philosophy, background

Apple's famous 1984 commercial was created by advertising agency Chiat/Day. In 1986, CEO Michael Spindler replaced Chiat/Day with agency BBDO. Under CEO Gil Amelio BBDO pitched to an internal marketing meeting at the then struggling Apple a new brand campaign with the slogan "We're back". Reportedly everyone in the meeting expressed approval with the exception of the recently returned Jobs who said "the slogan was stupid because Apple wasn't back."[10]

Jobs then invited three different advertising agencies to present new ideas that reflected the philosophy he thought had to be reinforced within the company he co-founded. Chiat/Day was one of them. While Jobs thought the creative concept "brilliant" he originally hated the words of the television commercial, until changing his mind. According to TBWA/Chiat/Day's creative director of the time Rob Siltanen: "Steve was highly involved with the advertising and every facet of Apple’s business. But he was far from the mastermind behind the renowned launch spot...While Steve Jobs didn’t create the advertising concepts, he does deserve an incredible amount of credit. He was fully responsible for ultimately pulling the trigger on the right ad campaign from the right agency, and he used his significant influence to secure talent and rally people like no one I’ve ever seen before. Without Steve Jobs there’s not a shot in hell that a campaign as monstrously big as this one would get even close to flying off the got an audience that once thought of Apple as semi-cool, but semi-stupid to suddenly think about the brand in a whole new way."[7]

Jobs said the following in an interview for PBS' 'One Last Thing' documentary:[11]

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your job is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is - everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

The original long version appeared on posters made by Apple. The text was written by Rob Siltanen with participation of Lee Clow and others on his creative team.[12]

Print advertisements

Print advertisements from the campaign were published in many mainstream magazines such as Newsweek and Time. Their style was predominantly traditional, prominently featuring the company's computers or consumer electronics along with the slogan.

There was also another series of print ads which were more focused on brand image than specific products. Those featured a portrait of one historic figure, with a small Apple logo and the words "Think Different" in one corner, with no reference to the company's products. The familiar faces on display included Jim Henson, Richard Feynman, Maria Callas, Miles Davis, Martha Graham, Ansel Adams, Cesar Chavez, Joan Baez, Laurence Gartel and others.

Promotional posters

Promotional posters from the campaign were produced in small numbers in 24 x 36 inch sizes. They featured the portrait of one historic figure, with a small Apple logo and the words "Think Different" in one corner. The posters were produced between 1997 and 1998.

There were at least 29 different Think Different posters created. The sets were as follows:

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Set 4

Set 5 (The Directors set, never officially released)

In addition, around the year 2000, Apple produced the ten, 11x17 poster set often referred to as "The Educators Set", which was distributed through their Education Channels. Apple sent out boxes (the cover of which is a copy of the 'Crazy Ones' original TD poster) that each contained 3 packs (sealed in plastic) of 10 small/miniature Think Different posters.

Educator Set

During a special event held on October 14, 1998 at the Flint Center in Cupertino California, a limited edition 11" x 14" softbound book was given to employees and affiliates of Apple Computer, Inc. to commemorate the first year of the ad campaign. The 50 page book contained a foreword by Steve Jobs, the text of the original Think Different ad, and illustrations of many of the posters used in the campaign along with narratives describing each person.

Reception and influence

Upon release, the "Think Different" Campaign proved to be an enormous success for Apple and TBWA\Chiat\Day. Critically acclaimed, the spot would garner numerous awards and accolades, including the 1998 Emmy Award for Best Commercial and the 2000 Grand Effie Award for most effective campaign in America.

In retrospect, the new ad campaign marked the beginning of Apple's re-emergence as a marketing powerhouse. In the years leading up to the ad Apple had lost market share to the Wintel ecosystem which offered lower prices, more software choices, and higher-performance CPUs. Worse for Apple's reputation was the high-profile failure of the Apple Newton, a billion-dollar project that proved to be a technical and commercial dud. The success of the "Think Different" campaign, along with the return of Steve Jobs, bolstered the Apple brand and reestablished the "counter-culture" aura of its earlier days, setting the stage for the immensely successful iMac personal computer and later the Mac OS X operating system.

Grammatical correctness

The grammaticality of "Think different" is disputed. Some say it is not correct in standard English: being a verb, "think" needs to be modified by an adverb, which would be "differently". On the other hand, standard English has many flat adverbs such as "hard" which lack the characteristic -ly ending of most adverbs (and think hardly means almost the opposite of think hard...). There are also non-standard varieties of English in which "different" would be the normal, adverbial form.

According to Jobs's official biography, "Jobs insisted that he wanted 'different' to be used as a noun, as in 'think victory' or 'think beauty.'" Jobs also specifically said that "think differently" wouldn't have the same meaning to him. Also, Jobs wanted to make it sound colloquial, like the phrase "think big."[13]


Product packaging

Since late 2009, the box packaging specification sheet for iMac computers has included the following footnote:

Macintosh     Think different.

In previous Macintosh packaging, Apple's website URL was printed below the specifications list.

The apparent explanation for this inconspicuous usage is that Apple wished to maintain its trademark registrations on both terms in most jurisdictions, a company must show continued use of a trademark on its products in order to maintain registration, but neither trademark is widely used in the company's current marketing. (With regards to "Macintosh", Apple's computers are now usually marketed as simply "Mac".) Indeed, this packaging was used as the required specimen of use when Apple filed to re-register "Think Different" as a U.S. trademark in 2009.[14]

Mac OS X

Apple has continued to include portions of the "Crazy Ones" text as Easter eggs in a range of places in OS X. This includes the high-resolution icon for TextEdit introduced in Leopard, the "All My Files" Finder icon introduced in Lion, the high-resolution icon for Notes in Mountain Lion and Mavericks and on the new Color LCD Display preferences menu introduced for MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Both the TextEdit and Notes uses were removed in Yosemite.

Apple Color Emoji

Several emoji glyphs in Apple's Apple Color Emoji font contain portions of the text of "Crazy Ones”, including 1F4CB ‘Clipboard’, 1F4C3 ‘Page with Curl’, 1F4C4 ‘Page facing up’ and 1F4D1 ‘Bookmark Tabs’.

On at least four separate occasions, the Apple homepage featured images of notable figures not originally part of the campaign alongside the "Think Different" slogan:

Similar portraits were also posted without the "Think different" text on at least seven additional occasions:

Other media

A portion of the text is recited in the trailer for Jobs, a biographical drama film of Steve Jobs' life.[19] Ashton Kutcher, as Jobs, is shown recording the audio for the trailer in the film's final scene.

The Richard Dreyfuss audio version is used in the introduction of the first episode of The Crazy Ones,[20] a podcast provided by Ricochet,[21] hosted by Owen Brennan and Patrick Jones.[22]


The Simpsons episode "Mypods and Boomsticks" pokes fun at the slogan, writing it "Think Differently", which is grammatically correct.

For Steam's release on Mac OS X, Valve has released a Left 4 Dead–themed advertisement featuring Francis, whose in-game spoken lines involve him hating various things. The given slogan is "I hate different."[23][24] Subsequently, for Team Fortress 2's release on Mac, a trailer was released which concludes with "Think bullets".[25]

There is a parody on the internet with the original audio track and the video track replaced with the images of North Korean military.[26]

Aiura parodies this through the use of "Think Crabing" in its opening.[27]

In the musical Nerds, which depicts a fictionalized account of the lives of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, there is a song titled "Think Different" in which Jobs hallucinates an anthropomorphized Oracle dancing with him and urging him to fight back against the Microsoft empire.[28]

In the animated show Gravity Falls in episode "A Tale of Two Stans", a poster with the words "Ponder alternatively" and a strawberry colored in a similar fashion as the old Apple logo shows in the background.[29]

See also


  1. 'Think Different': The Ad Campaign that Restored Apple's Reputation. Retrieved August 12, 2008
  2. Clifton, Rita; Ahmad, Sameena (2009). Brands and Branding. The Economist. Bloomberg Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-1576601471.
  3. Altstiel, Tom; Grow, Jean (2005). Advertising Strategy: Creative Tactics from the Outside/In. Sage Publications, Inc. p. 24. ISBN 978-1412917964.
  4. Sull, Donald Norman (2003). Revival of the Fittest: Why Good Companies Go Bad and How Great Managers Remake Them. Harvard Business Review Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1578519934.
  5. "Touching: Steve Jobs Voicing One Of Apple's Iconic 'Think Different' Campaign Commercials". Geekologie. October 7, 2011
  6. Rob Siltanen (Dec 14, 2011). "The Real Story Behind Apple's 'Think Different' Campaign". Forbes. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  7. 1 2 Siltanen, Rob (2011-12-14). "The Real Story Behind Apple's 'Think Different' Campaign". Forbes. Forbes.
  8. Simmons, Doug (February 20, 1994). "THING; Globe-Trotting By Tricycle". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  9. PowerPC vs. Pentium II: Escargot? Retrieved February 6, 1998
  10. Carlton, Jim (April 14, 1998). "Jobs Makes Headway at Apple, But Not Without Much Turmoil". Wall Street Journal.
  11. Steve Jobs - One Last Thing. Pioneer Productions. PBS. November 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  12. Rob Siltanen (14 Dec 2011). "The Real Story Behind Apple's 'Think Different' Campaign". Forbes. Retrieved 14 Mar 2014. I wrote everything..." "I shared my scripts with Lee, and he thought they were good. He made a couple tweaks,...
  13. Isaacson, Walter (2011). "Think Different". Steve Jobs (print). New York City: Simon & Schuster. pp. 329–330. ISBN 978-1-4516-4853-9.
  14. Apple Inc. (November 30, 2009). "Specimen for trademark serial no. 77882684". Trademark Document Retrieval. United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  15. "Steve Jobs memorial page on". Archived from the original on October 6, 2011.
  16. "Nelson Mandela memorial page on". Archived from the original on December 15, 2013.
  17. "Macintosh turns 30". Archived from the original on January 24, 2014.
  18. Broussard, Mitchel. "Apple Honors the Life of Muhammad Ali on its Homepage". Retrieved 2016-06-06.
  19. "'Jobs' Theatrical Trailer". Yahoo! Movies. 2013. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
  20. The Crazy Ones podcast
  21. Ricochet - Conservative Conversation & Community website
  22. Creative Jones Collective website
  23. Slivka, Eric (March 3, 2010). "Valve teases upcoming Half life release for Mac". Mac Rumors. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  24. Bramwell, Tom (March 3, 2010). "Valve teases forthcoming announcement". Eurogamer. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  25. "Team Fortress 2 - The Mac Update!". June 10, 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  26. "Think Different Banned".
  27. "Aiura Preview EP 1 – Think Crabbing".
  28. "Excerpts from Nerds".
  29. "Gravity Falls - A Tale of Two Stans - Preview".

Further reading

External links

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