Apple’s pulling power is so great that its CEO once got the President of America to call the President of South Africa to ask if he’d like to star in the Think Different campaign on TV, to promote what was essentially a plastic box of wires. Nelson Mandela said no thanks (for now), but the fact that he even replied to Steve Jobs, and that Bill Clinton even asked on his behalf, is testament to the fact that Apple was, even in the nineties, a force to be reckoned with.
In fact, that particular ad campaign proved to be an indicator of a star’s currency in its day: Robert Redford tried and failed to get on the Think Different ads, Woody Allen was rejected (“Steve was a very moral person”) but Albert Einstein made the cut, nothing to do with him being dead and therefore free. And this was all before the arrival of iMacs, iPods, iTunes, iPhones and iPads sent us mental for all things Apple.
We met Ken Segall for breakfast in Soho House yesterday. He’s the charming, funny man who, as Creative Director at Apple’s agency Chiat Day, created the “i” prefix. The event was co-hosted with my friends Liam, Chris and Harry from Cogs agency,joined by guests from the creative industries of London. Fittingly, Apple’s Head Designer, Jonathan Ive was also there, on the front cover of the Wired magazines laid out on every chair, he looked on with stubbly intensity as we talked about his fights with Steve over the candy colours of the iMac.
Ken’s book, Insanely Simple, The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success, is not only an insider’s view of Jobtopia, but also a fascinating attack on the complexity that can strangle most big corporations until the creative life has been squeezed out of them. In the wake of Steve Jobs, it remains to be seen what life is left in the simple, brutal heart of Apple Inc.