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How Apple Told a Story That Inspired Millions

Almost every marketing class, video, or interview that I have ever seen has referenced this timeless marketing campaign at least once.

And if you are into marketing, you probably already know what I am talking about.

That’s right: Apple’s 1997 Think Different campaign.

If you have never heard of this campaign or have never seen the videos, I encourage you to watch it right now to see just how powerful their marketing is in this advertisement.

If you don’t have time, I’ll give you a very brief overview.

Overview of the Think Different Campaign

Apple started out its campaign video with a montage of clips of some of the most influential people in history: Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and Albert Einstein to name a few.

All throughout the montage, a voice narrated, saying “Here’s to all of the crazy ones, misfits, rebels…”

It continued on, showing how all of the influential people that are being highlighted challenged the norm in some way.

And finally, it ended with the finishing quote, “While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who actually do.”

Wow. Talk about a powerful ending.

So, why was Apple’s Think Different campaign so successful? And how can we learn from their genius?

The Three Points That Make A Great Campaign

The reason why the Think Different campaign was so successful is because it followed three simple points:

A Story Is More Powerful Than An Explanation

  • In the Think Different campaign, instead of explaining their message, Apple told a story about the power and strength of being different. This story tugged at people’s heartstrings because the story of a rebel turned hero was inspiring.

  • Apple did not frame themselves or their products as the hero of the story, they framed their audience as the hero, as if to say, Audience, you could be the next ones to change the world.

Showing Leaves a Greater Impact Than Telling

  • Instead of saying, We love our customers, Apple showed its support by honoring change-makers and opening its doors to any like-minded individual who wished to change the world.

  • Apple did not use the advertisement to tell everyone why their computers were awesome, they showed that their products were part of something bigger than just Apple.

  • Apple also showed its beliefs in challenging conformity by supporting and highlighting examples of people who didn’t follow the norm and made a great impact on the world as a result.

Giving People Hope Goes A Long Way

  • Apple did not honor all of those change-makers just for kicks; they highlighted them to humanize them and to let us know that we too have the potential for greatness

  • Apple ended its campaign by giving its customers hope and inspiration to change the world for the better.

How You Can Be Like Apple

The three points that Apple followed — using stories instead of explanations, showing and not telling, and giving people hope for a better life — were what created one of the most memorable and inspiring campaigns of all time.

But while the first and third points are extremely important, I would like to spend some time expanding on the second point: showing and NOT telling.

Not once during the advertisement did Apple show their computers or phones. And only once did they show their logo.

Why is that?

Because Apple was not selling their products in this campaign, they were selling their WHY.

People don’t buy Apple products because they are better made or cheaper than other computers. They buy Apple because Apple has a brand that they want to be associated with.

So how can you be like Apple?

Become intentional about implementing those three points whenever you are working on a marketing project.

  1. Use stories where the customer is the hero.

  2. Show WHY instead of telling your customers that your product should be bought.

  3. And let your customers leave with a feeling of hope or inspiration.

It makes a world of difference.

Don’t believe me?

Just ask Apple.


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