I Liked The Ad
Thursday, October 2, 1997 by Dave Winer.
One of the things we talked about at the DaveNet Live session on Tuesday is Apple's latest "Think Different" TV ad and the print and billboard campaign behind it.
If you have QuickTime, you can watch the movie right now.
I liked the ad because Apple told us that they remember who they are.
This is important because they totally forgot.
How much do you cost?
Who are you?
Which is the more interesting question?
Advertising is not merchandising. It can be, but advertising at its best and its most interesting can simply tell you who they are.
I had an emotional reaction. I could feel it in my body.
It represented my values. I don't know if it's possible for those values to be owned by an inanimate object such as a computer. Once it was. I remember my first view of a Macintosh. What a charmer! I remember that it was once possible for a computer to have a philosophy and to make a statement.
Today most computers are like the Macintosh and I've long since incorporated the magic of the machine into my workflow. It feels like a tool now. I have set up my NT 4.0 machine to work like a Mac, so I feel more at home there now too.
Does my use of a Mac make me different? In some sense yes, but maybe this kind of difference isn't so positive. See Another Offer to Apple, when I tried being a Mac zealot for a day last summer, and see where it got me. You pay a price in this world for being different.
But if their ads can make us look brilliant for being different, it's just the kind of air cover I've been asking for in DaveNet for almost three years.
Think Different does actually say who I am. I believe in creativity and I believe in being different. I'm the kind of person who would be likely to use Netscape over Microsoft Internet Explorer. Or PGP over S/MIME. I'm the kind of person who would be likely to use the Macintosh over the PC. I will often choose to do something different from what everyone else does.
In that sense the ad actually did a pretty good job of identifying what it is about the Macintosh that is different -- it appeals to people who want to be different.
I went back and re-read He Was Beautiful, written on August 1, just as Steve Jobs was taking over at Apple. I thought he couldn't turn the clock back. I thought I'd agree with what I said just two months ago, but the road has twisted in ways I didn't forsee.
I find the place I had in my heart for Apple is still there. I find this surprising, but believe it or not, it feels good!
Apple tells us what's good about them, but don't forget, it's just an advertisement. The philosophy of difference, of empowerment of the individual, must be practiced, not just presented in advertising.
Apple's record of empowerment of individuals is weak. Jobs and his agency tell a beautiful story, but behind the scenes it's not really that pretty. Inside Apple, it's about regimentation, following the party line. I imagine that in the Jobsian pecking order developers are even further down the feeding chain. Jobs has a history of trying to control developers, always with disastrous results.
Developers, at their best, are creative different people like the people portrayed in the ad. Apple has had low tolerance of developers blazing their own trails, even when history has proven that they were on the right trail and Apple was barking up the wrong tree.
Maybe there's room for change. If so, Steve, make the story consistent. Practice what you speak. If genius shows up in Apple's backyard, don't silence it, trust it.
PS: Next Tuesday, October 7, is the three year anniversary of DaveNet!
PPS: I learned at Seybold that a lot of people who read DaveNet via email don't know about Scripting News. It's got about four times the content of DaveNet. If you like these emailings, more cooool vibes are available at http://www.scripting.com/. Check it every day for new interesting, entertaining and informative web stuff.