The Marketing Brilliance Behind Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” Campaign


In 1997, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was in a difficult situation. Having been fired from the company that he founded years before, he was suddenly invited back as it’s CEO when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. In Jobs’ absence, Apple had stopped innovating and had strayed away from their culture of perfection. The result was that a once great company was now weeks away from being broke.  Steve Jobs was hired back on as CEO to bring Apple back to life.

Steve Jobs knew that he had to somehow redefine Apple in the eyes of the stockholders and the consumers. After consulting with Chiat/Day (the ad agency that created the “1984” ad), Steve unveiled his new marketing strategy in his 1997 keynote speech.


After this marketing campaign was created, Apple released the iconic colorful line of iMac computers. The new computer fit the new mantra “think different” perfectly.  Over the course of one year, Apple went from a faceless corporation that sold computer products to a meaningful entity that sold dreams & passion. The line of Apple computers and products that followed (iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc) became less about the technology and more about Apple’s core values and what they stood for.

This campaign is brilliant because it takes advantage of the fact that people buy for emotional reasons, not logical ones. Otherwise, the technologically superior Windows music player ‘Zune’ would have beat the iPod. In the video, Steve isn’t talking about the capacity, power, or speed of Apple’s computers. He barely even mentions technology at all (and when he does, it’s almost with disgust). Rather, he reminds the room of that people need to know what Apple stands for. He reminds the room that the soul of a company and it’s brand image is entirely reliant upon it’s why.

When Simon Sinek introduced the Golden Circle at his TED talk, he says the following:

 “If Apple were like everyone else, they would say,  “We make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?”

Instead Apple says, “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”’


The most successful companies lead with their why. Coca Cola’s mission statement doesn’t say anything about selling carbonated sugar beverages or worldwide market distribution. Rather, their mission statement is “To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions.”

When marketing or selling a product/service, figure out the why.  Align yourself and believe in the why. If you do this, you will be communicating the right message to the prospects and customers.



Enjoyed this article? Join like-minded business professionals and please subscribe below to receive weekly tips, motivation, and inspiration for free. Also, don’t forget to share this if you found this post enjoyable.

Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *