Last week, the business world was stunned by the sudden resignation of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple. Here is a link to a revealing interview with John Sculley, former Apple CEO, who speaks to Mr. Jobs’ genius, the twin pillars of design and marketing, and the remarkable bond that Apple has with its end users.
As a measure of the respect Mr. Jobs holds within the business community, Apple’s stock price closed 5% lower after the announcement. Stock price aside, those of us in the advertising and graphic design fields—not to mention anyone with an iPod, iPad, iPhone or Macintosh laptop—owes a debt of gratitude to the man for making our jobs easier and our lives that much more enjoyable.
Apple has always held a special place in my heart. I had the rare opportunity to work on the account for four years earlier in my career. Working under Steve Hayden (the author of the famous 1984 television commercial for Macintosh) I was part of the team that helped introduce the Macintosh SE and the concept of desktop publishing to the world.
Just as the computers were created with the user in mind, so was the advertising. For both, excellence was expected. Thirty-second TV commercials became mini-movies combining humor and emotion to make a human connection between man (and woman) and machine. With its clean, minimalist approach, current advertising for Apple is still as elegant as the products themselves.
I am not the world’s most technological man. In fact when my art director partner, Mike Campbell, and I first encountered the SE, it took the two of us to operate it. As a copywriter, I worked the keyboard, while Mike maneuvered the mouse. But we were both transfixed by the elegant design and incredibly intuitive nature of the Mac, both heavily influenced by Mr. Jobs.
It wasn’t long before we could point and click, cut and paste. Mike and I brought the first Macs to the BBDO office in New York, forming our own private little network, producing scripts, storyboards, and black and white layouts. We marveled at the computers’ portability, being able to carry the 20-pound units around in backpacks. I still have my SE from back in the day, its screen smaller than that of today’s iPad.
Steve Jobs has shown the world what could be done with unwavering vision and devotion to the end user experience; John Sculley maintains that by building perception you build reality. Both men have given us valuable lessons in how to approach our profession. For those lessons, as well as listening to playlists on my iPod and texting my kids on my iPhone, I join the millions of other Apple users when I say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”