Monday, November 9, 2015
Regrets, I have a few
I wrote hundreds of Apple ads and never listened to a word Steve Jobs had to say.
Of course an opening line like that begs for some explanation. So here goes.
In 1993 I was lured away from Chiat/Day/Los Angeles to work at BBDO on Wilshire Blvd. Though I had a head for math, science and calculus, I had no experience with computers at all. That didn't seem to bother the powers that be.
They hired me to write copy and that's what I did. Often until 1 or 2 in the morning, pending many layers of corporate approval. You see, Jobs was no longer with the company. It was being run by former PepsiCo executives. These brown fizzy water professionals believed they could turn the Mac into America's favorite business machine.
I don't like staying late at the office.
I like it even less to deal with brown fizzy water cretins who can't make up their mind.
Or who do make up their mind only to have it overturned by a brown fizzy water poobah on a higher level of the corporate hierarchy.
I was miserable. Left that job and ended up back home at Chiat/Day. Almost about the same time Steve Jobs ended up back home at Apple.
(My wife and I just went to see the Aaron Sorkin bio-pic this weekend so the timing is fresh in my head.)
In 1998, the resurgence of Apple was well underway. I had some minor successes at Chiat at about the same time. It was then that Lee Clow approached me.
"Rich, one of the senior writers on Apple is going back to NY. We need a guy who can channel Steve's voice and write copy that demystifies sophisticated computer advancements. I want to throw your oversized hat in the ring."
Lee gave me a weekend to mull over the proposition.
If I could take back that Monday Morning before the turn of the century I would.
Here I was being given an opportunity to work with one of the most influential men in the history of mankind. A chance to see and be part of the iPod, the iPhone and the complete democratization of technology. A ground floor, once in a lifetime bite at the Apple that could have changed the course of my career and made me and future generations carrying my DNA, fabulously wealthy.
I said "No" when I probably should have said "Yes". Swayed perhaps by one last comment from Lee.
"I know you like to write funny. But Steve doesn't do funny."