All good things must come to an end.
In 1986, after an incredible seven-year relationship with Apple, the brilliant advertising agency Chiat/Day – responsible for such masterpieces as the famous “1984” Super Bowl commercial, and by far the era’s best print ads for the computer industry – was unduly ousted (as Steve Jobs had been one year previously) by Apple’s hapless CEO John Sculley.
Instead of complaining, condemning or criticizing his former client, Jay Chiat ran a $40,000 full-page ad in the New York Times with the headline “Thanks, Apple”. I absolutely loved the gesture. Among other things, the ad said:
“Thanks for letting us make a little history. Thanks for demanding our best, and then more than our best.”
The words, of course, were directed not at Apple in general but at one particular person – Steve Jobs. And they speak volumes about the innovation “magic dust” that Steve seems to have been able to sprinkle on all the great people – and companies – he has gathered around him.
It’s worth noting that in 1997 Chiat/Day was rightly reinstated as Apple’s agency – upon Steve Jobs’s return from exile – and has gone on to produce all the company’s fabulous advertising since then.
But yesterday something far more significant came to an end. The resignation of innovation’s undisputed “great man” closes one of the most amazing eras in business history. So I was honestly expecting to open the New York Times today to find another landmark Chiat/Day advertisment, this time with the headline, “Thanks, Steve”.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, so I thought I’d take a crack at writing my own “Ode to Steve Jobs”. Here it is:
Thanks for eternally changing our lives for the better – at work, at home, and everywhere in between.
Thanks for giving us the power to do wonderful things we never dreamed were possible, and for making those things easier and more enjoyable than we ever imagined.
Thanks for saving our world from the blight of dullness; from boring gray boxes, features and functions, and tasteless “I’m a PC” design.
Thanks for the long and passionate love affair we have had – and continue to have – with your products, and services, (and stores!) that have enchanted us over the years with their sexiness, and friendliness, and joy of life.
Thanks for demonstrating that innovation doesn’t have to be a buzzword; it can be the most dramatic growth platform, transforming a lame and dying laggard into Wall Street’s hottest property in less than a decade.
Thanks for seeing great art and beauty in technology, and for opening our eyes to see it, too.
Thanks for making so many of us feel so much cooler.
Thanks for coming back and finishing what you started.
Thanks for putting a dent in the universe.
Thanks for everything, Steve.
We bid you farewell.
Rowan Gibson is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on enterprise innovation. He is co-author of the bestseller “Innovation to the Core” and a much in-demand public speaker around the globe. On Twitter he is @RowanGibson.