Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crab Apple

Just finished reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

I mention that for two reasons.

First, I can't remember the last time I willingly got through a book of 627 pages. Actually it's only 571 and there are 50 odd pages of footnotes and annotations, but the copywriter in me chose the larger number even if it is stretching the truth.

But it seems I'm not the only one who has played hackey sack with the truth.
And that brings me to the second reason.

While author Walter Isaacson has penned a fast-moving and often-gripping account of Jobs' life, there are several missteps along the way. I know this because I had a ringside seat for many of the dealings between Apple and Chiat/Day.

In 1997, Mr. Isaacson writes Chiat/Day no longer pitched accounts. I know we would have liked to stop pitching accounts, particularly in light of the resources that it drains from the agency and the downright cretinous way clients go about reviews. Not to mention the crappy motels we were forced to stay in, I'm looking at you Hampton Inn, Wilkesboro, NC and your broken-ass in-room coffeemakers.

But the truth is, we pitched.

Between 1996 and 2002, we pitched ABC, Levis, Wall Street Journal,, Lowe's, Citibank, Red Roof, and many more.

Walter also gives a less-than-stellar account of the development of the Think Different campaign. He even attributes some of the manifesto writing to Mr. Jobs, including the pivotal last line: because the people crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

I don't know much about the world. I'm not up on the differences between a Syrah and a Cab. I don't always set the table right. And I'm not well-versed in finance. But I do know copywriting. And that line was written by a copywriter.

In fact, you can read more about it here in a great piece written by my former boss Rob Siltanen.

Finally, while we are on the topic of credit, Mr. Isaacson shortchanges my good friend Susan Alinsangan, the art director who created the iconic iPod silhouette campaign that launched Apple into the music business. I could argue that he has marginalized the collective efforts of all the creative people who helped build the Apple brand, but I come from a somewhat biased point of view on the matter.

Besides it would only stroke the egos of people who don't need any more ego-stroking.
Particularly from me.

The larger point, and the one that lawyers often make, has to do with the Fruit of the Poisoned Tree. That is, if some of the fruit is tainted (which it clearly is), everything obtained from the tree must also be questioned.

In other words, you can't always believe everything you read. Unless you read it here at roundseventeen, where we boast a 100% AAA Rating*.

* Ratings reprinted with permission form the Siegel Institute of Brutal Honesty.


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