Steve Jobs may have had a sense of humour after all.
Shortly after Apple released the iMac, Jobs borrowed an idea from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to gin up publicity for the product: Whoever purchased the one millionth iMac would find a “golden certificate” inside the box. Aside from refunding the cost of the computer, the certificate would be good for one tour of Apple’s campus and meeting with Jobs who planned to dress just like Willy Wonka.
Steve’s idea was to do a Willy Wonka with it. Just as Wonka did in the movie, Steve wanted to put a golden certificate representing the millionth iMac inside the box of one iMac, and publicize that fact. Whoever opened the lucky iMac box would be refunded the purchase price and be flown to Cupertino, where he or she (and, presumably, the accompanying family) would be taken on a tour of the Apple campus.
Steve had already instructed his internal creative group to design a prototype golden certificate, which he shared with us. But the killer was that Steve wanted to go all out on this. He wanted to meet the lucky winner in full Willy Wonka garb. Yes, complete with top hat and tails.
In an interview with Business Insider, Segall referred to the Willy Wonka suggestion as Jobs’ “nuttiest” marketing idea in the entire time they worked together.
“He was cool in that he would come into a meeting and say he had this idea, but his ideas didn’t always go anywhere,” Segall told Business Insider. “The Willy Wonka idea – and the fact that he wanted to dress up – was really out of character for him. A lot of people will probably read that story and think it sounds like a pretty good idea.”
Sadly, the world never got to see Jobs dress up as Wonka. The idea was abandoned because of a California law prohibiting companies from requiring customers to make a purchase in order to be entered into a contest.