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Creative Value and All that Jazz

BY White Label IQ

In a well-known 1997 monologue, Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, waxes on about the company’s new ad campaign The Crazy Ones. He prefaces a preview of the related TV spot, below (paraphrased):

The Apple brand has suffered from neglect. The way to bring it back is not to talk about speeds and fees. Not bits and megahertz. Not about being better than Windows.

Some of the greatest marketing the universe has ever seen… Nike… doesn’t ever talk about the product. They honor great athletes (ad campaigns by Wieden+Kennedy).

[Likewise] Apple’s core value is that we believe people with passion can change the world for the better. The theme of our campaign is ‘Think different’… honoring those people… those who think differently.

[Film clip excerpt]

“Here’s to the crazy ones (Albert Einstein)… misfits, rebels (Bob Dylan)…

troublemakers (Martin Luther King, Jr.)… round pegs in square holes…

they push the human race forward (Amelia Earhart)…”

Think different.1

Jobs even quipped that if they (Einstein and others) had ever used a computer, it would’ve been a Mac. Anyway, Apple’s brand identity since then needs no further introduction. That is, the company never did follow the status quo, it created something consumers clearly know as different… something no one else offers.

Excellence is not a formula, excellence is the grand experiment.

It ain’t mathematics. It’s jazz.

—Dan Wieden, Co-founder, Wieden+Kennedy agency (paraphrased)

Marketing firms that focus on the specific strategies that make them different, become known for the particular niche(s) where those unique strategies flourish.

Those agencies are thought leaders. Specialists. Experts. Where clients will turn when they not only need new ideas, but ideas that are relevant to their industries; to carry their brands forward.

Conceptual For Brainstorming And Teamwork

Is an advertising agency going to be known for standing at the machine and making photocopies… or for making whatever it is that others want to copy? Is it about billing for the commoditized tasks of production and printing and media commissions and programmatic service offerings that anyone can do… or for killer strategy and big, creative ideas?

Web development is a terrific example. An agency is going to be respected for the right-brain strategy of what any given website delivers versus the left-brain code that was written for it.

Whereas, that left brain is what outsource partners do best… production. They can handle the distractions offsite, managing them fully. All of the personnel, all of the skills and know-how, the job boards and personnel management. The rustling. Getting that part of the job done perfectly, no in-house developers required (which has a nice little side effect of optimizing the agency’s adjusted gross income).

The outsource even knows how to more thoroughly develop and refine the scope of work at the onset so the agency knows how to price the project and maximize profitability… not leaving money on the table because some essential task was overlooked or an additional opportunity was missed.

All that time, the agency can instead do what it does best.

“Tell your left brain to give your right brain permission to let all hell break loose.

If you want creative excellence, you have to allow disorder.”

—Dan Wieden (paraphrased)

“Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise.”

—George Gershwin, Jazz Composer and Pianist

1Steve Jobs, “The Crazy Ones” speech,, 1997.

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