Miles Davis / From The Archives (The Apple Years)


We’re going for a bit of a mixed-bag with this episode of From The Archives. Much had been written about the Apple Think Different campaign – and that includes plenty of ink related to Miles Davis. I own the Miles Davis poster from the campaign and have always been a fan of TBWA Chiat/Day’s inventive message:

“Buy a Mac and join a pantheon of creative geniuses–like Albert Einstein, Miles Davis, and John Lennon–who “think different.”

Apple boosted its 1998 ad budget to well over $100 million. (Fortune, Nov. 9, 1998)

» Hard to believe (not really), but way back in 1999 Jesse Jackson accused Apple Computers of racism. Why? Because, as Bryan Chaffin wrote for The Mac Observer, “Apple had the gall to use images of such legendary figures as Jackie Robinson, Ceasar Chavez, and Miles Davis, all of whom are members of ethnic minorities, in advertising campaigns, while not appointing members of the same two races (African-American and Latino) to its own Board of Directors. What does one have to do with the other?”

Check out the full article here.

» We don’t have to go too far back with Farah Jasmine Griffin and Salim Washington’s Clawing at the Limits of Cool, an excellent book about Miles Davis and John Coltrane; the musical interaction and its historical context.

Here’s an excerpt:

Even in our own time, through advertising campaigns for products as various as Gap clothing, Hennessy, and Apple computers, we can see Miles Davis’s image used as a symbol for innovation and the courage to follow one’s conviction. All the ads emphasize Miles’s uniqueness as an artist and persona.

…The figures are not identified by name; the simple, if ungrammatical caption “Think Different” accompanies each image. According to Allen Olivo, senior director for worldwide marketing communications at Apple, “The premise is that people who use Apple computers are different and that we make computers for those creative people who believe that one person can change the world.” By not identifying the figures in the striking black-and-white images, Apple executives also sought to establish their consumers as people in the know, as part of the “cognoscenti.”

» Here is a Think Different TV ad narrated by Richard Dreyfuss. I do not see Miles Davis, which is annoying.


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