Advertising Legend Behind Apple's Iconic '1984', 'Think Different', and Mac vs. PC Campaigns Retires

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Apr 12, 2001
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The creative mastermind behind some of Apple's most iconic advertising campaigns announced his retirement today.

Lee Clow

Lee Clow, the Global Director of Media Arts at Apple's advertising agency partner TBWA, will move into an advisory role as Chairman Emeritus of TBWA\Media Arts Lab, a division of the agency he founded in 2006 to exclusively serve Apple. His iconic, award-winning career spanned five decades.

Over a 30-plus-year partnership with Apple, Clow worked on some of the company's most famous campaigns, including its "1984" ad for the original Macintosh, "Get a Mac" series of Mac vs. PC ads, "Think Different" slogan after Steve Jobs returned in 1997, and colorful silhouette ads for the iPod and iTunes.

Apple CEO Tim Cook reflected on Clow's legendary career:
During his long partnership with Steve and Apple, Lee told powerful visual stories that elevated new technologies with the passion, creativity and ingenuity that define our own humanity. He helped Apple carry itself through times of challenge, and his work inspired audiences to look beyond the horizon as an exciting future came into view. Lee's body of work over five decades hums with cleverness, warmth and enthusiasm--and there is no doubt that it will inspire and motivate generations of 'Crazy Ones' still to come.
A look back at some of those ads:


TBWA\Media Arts Lab will continue to serve Apple around the world, led by executives Katrien De Bauw and Brent Anderson.

Article Link: Advertising Legend Behind Apple's Iconic '1984', 'Think Different', and Mac vs. PC Campaigns Retires
 

Reindeer_Games

macrumors 6502
Nov 29, 2018
286
225
Pueblo, CO
I was too young when it aired, and was a hardcore PC gamer in the 90's when I finally saw it. Very iconic of the times in early home computers-no one knew what they could do yet-because we were the beta testers. It was all symbolism and hype-but this ad took the cake in reaching. One of the first ad's I'll never forget-I loved it.
 

asiga

macrumors 6502a
Nov 4, 2012
857
1,059
In fact, Apple as a whole retired before him: The Mac vs PC characters are nowadays flipped, with Apple playing exactly the same role as the PC in those ads. Having your phone telling you got a new memory is something that could only happen to the PC character in those ads.
 

neuropsychguy

macrumors 65816
Sep 29, 2008
1,329
2,046
Those were amazing and memorable ads.

Now an iPhone spins in a circle. Creativity has left the building.
I thought Apple devices used to sell themselves though (that's what many commenters here seem to believe). Why did Apple need "amazing and memorable ads" back then and can get away with less memorable ones now and still sell so many devices (even though theses devices are less "awesome or innovative").

I'm just replying to you to latch on to what you said to point out inconsistencies in people's arguments against Apple (not saying you're being inconsistent).
 

JohnStrass

macrumors regular
Jul 17, 2002
168
130
Miami, USA
Shame, loved his work.

I bet if Steve was still around, he be able to pull him out of retirement again.

I loved reading about him in Steve’s autobiography.

I never though I would use the words "cool" or " really interesting" with an Ad. Hope he puts his talents to helping some worthy nonprofit or good cause...
 
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PSCConMP

macrumors member
Apr 26, 2015
30
81
These were great ads and I love them, but all of them are old. What ads are on Lee's resume recently?
 

syklee26

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2005
405
366
When you look at those ads and the way Apple is today, it shows you how Apple today has lost its vision. Apple during Jobs at the helm was full of crisp ideas and eye catching innovativeness just like those ads. They wanted to wow people and represent themselves as life changers. Now it is too focused on how to monetize.

I do not like how and where they are moving to...
 

npmacuser5

macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2015
1,247
1,285
Yesteryear, the delta between Apple and the rest of Technology significant. Today, Technology has come over to the Apple vision. Therefore, more difficult to create those PC vs Mac type advertising.

I would start a campaign around “Apple was Right”. Copying ones vision deserves a “A Big Thank You!”.

Good news “Apple was Right” :D
 

wigby

macrumors 68000
Jun 7, 2007
1,962
1,530
For me the ad campaigns he made stood for something. It made me feel proud using Apple gear. Today's Apple ads can be from anyone... change the name... and voilà.

I wish him a good retirement and thank him for his excellent job.
The tech industry was trying to establish itself as a lifestyle choice for decades and did so in a big part thanks to Apple. Today, tech is a lifestyle choice of everyone whether they like it or not. Apple ads still standout but since everyone else has caught up to their messaging and their style, it's harder for Apple to really make their mark.
 

AutisticGuy

macrumors member
Feb 1, 2018
94
172
Wow! Both of those ads were amongst the most epic “campaigns” (I know the 1984 ad only played once) in advertising history. I didn’t know both were created by one guy. He must be quite gifted!
 

GuruZac

macrumors 65816
Sep 9, 2015
1,192
2,515
The tech industry was trying to establish itself as a lifestyle choice for decades and did so in a big part thanks to Apple. Today, tech is a lifestyle choice of everyone whether they like it or not. Apple ads still standout but since everyone else has caught up to their messaging and their style, it's harder for Apple to really make their mark.
And I think the notion that iPhones are not creative or are falling behind is unfounded for the same reasons. What does an Android do that iPhones don't practically speaking that improves the usage of the device? Nothing. Smartphone tech evolved so quickly that there isn't a whole lot left tech-wise that can be integrated into a smartphone currently that improves your life day to day (productivity wise). We're basically at fullscreen displays across the board, Apple's Face ID is still top of class, so other than adding below the screen biometrics where there are no notches etc. what's left? Smartphone camera tech has grown leaps and bounds, but the changes year to year are iterative, not revolutionary. I think the days of revolutionary tech surprises for the consumer market are going to be much farther apart. The smartphone market is saturated, the tablet market is growing only for Apple who is clearly miles ahead with the iPad Pros. They're also ahead in the growing wearables market with the Apple Watch. Arguably the only area Apple is behind could be in the home computer division, which is ironic.
 
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