Steve Jobs Almost Killed One Of Apple's Biggest Ad Campaigns

Few advertisements are as instantly recognisable as Apple’s silhouetted iPod campaign, but at least one person didn’t like these ads at first: Steve Jobs.

When the late Apple CEO was first shown the ad mock ups by Chiat /Day, the agency who came up with the idea, Jobs dismissed it outright. “It’s not Apple,” he said, according to Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Successa new book from Ken Segall.

As the creative director of Chiat/Day, Segall worked closely with Jobs at both Apple and NeXT to launch many of their better known ad campaigns, but the iPod spots marked a change in direction for the company and one that made Jobs apprehensive.

“It didn’t look anything like any of the ads that Steve had approved in the past – which were mostly white pages featuring a product image and a clever headline,” Segall writes. “In that sense, it was ‘off brand.'”

Jobs did eventually come around to liking the advertisements, but only after the agency continued to push back. It wasn’t the first time that Jobs initially disliked what would later become an iconic advertisement, and it wouldn’t be the last either.

Several years later, the ad agency encountered similar resistance from Jobs, this time for the Mac vs. PC ad campaign, which was intended to be a likeable attack ad against PCs.

“You’d think that such a brilliant advertising idea would have been greenlighted from the start,” Segall writes in the book. “In truth, the campaign had shaky beginnings, as Steve rejected many of Chiat’s scripts over the course of several meetings.”

Indeed, Jobs also initially shot down the Think Different campaign that perhaps did more for Apple’s brand than any other marketing effort. Rob Siltamen, another advertising executive who worked with Apple, recounted in a Forbes piece last year that Jobs called the original script for the campaign “sh*t.”

Ultimately, as Segall explains in the book, Jobs generally served as a focus group of one, which he says helped Apple and the advertising agency get more done. Fortunately, Jobs was also flexible enough to listen to others and change his mind from time to time, or Apple might have missed out on some of the best ads of the last two decades.

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