Fake Different

If you’re a Mac fan of a certain age, you no doubt recognize the title of this piece as a play on Apple’s famous Think Different campaign that ran from 1997 through 2002 and launched with the classic television spot Crazy Ones. A few of you (especially faithful readers of this sporadic column) may even know that the ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day has been responsible for all of Apple’s advertising during the Steve Jobs years. They created the famous 1984 Macintosh introductory spot, were summarily booted when Steve was shown the door, and were asked to return by Steve upon his own triumphant re-assumption of the iCEO throne.

In fact, the main man behind Apple’s advertising has been legendary ad man Lee Clow. Lee—an art director who’s been honored with more awards, lifetime achievement honors and advertising hall of fame inductions than one could shake an HB pencil at—has been at Chiat for over 40 years and is generally considered one of the grand poobahs of adland. Although he’s definitely a surfer dude and not a Don Draper.

Apart from his advertising prowess, Lee is also known for his beard—a feature that, as far as I can tell, has not left his face since he was discharged from the service. Maybe even before then. And one day a few years ago, while pondering what I could do on Twitter that would be worth someone following, I hit upon Lee’s beard. Or, rather, I hit upon being Lee’s beard. Both literally and figuratively. And so, in May 2009, I began anonymously tweeting, as @leeclowsbeard, one advertising crumb of wisdom a day. A morsel of knowledge that had ostensibly fallen from Lee’s mouth and lodged within my follicles.

Well, the gambit worked. In fact, it worked better than I’d ever imagined. The followers came. Not in Bieber or Gaga numbers, of course, but enough people – including some important ad people – to keep plugging away at it. Eventually, the Chief Creative Officer at Chiat, Rob Schwartz, started following. Fearing a cease-and-desist order, I left him alone for a few months. Finally, my curiosity got the better of me and I messaged him asking if Lee knew what his beard was doing behind his back. Rob said he did, that he approved as long as I kept up the quality, and wanted to know who the heck I was.

A few more messages were exchanged, and before I knew it I was on a flight to L.A. to have lunch with Rob and Lee. A very “one of these things is not like the other” moment. Heck, Lee actually left a meeting with Steve Jobs to attend our lunch. How surreal. Even more surreal, the guys decided my tweets should be turned into a book.

This book:

A book of tweets called leeclowsbeard.
A spread from the book leeclowsbeard.

And then this iOS app:

The book is set to hit Amazon on June 12 and is available for pre-order now. An iBooks edition will also be offered.

A launch party was held last week at Chiat’s L.A. offices, and my wife and I were able to attend. I was also officially and approvingly outed on Fast Company’s Create site. You can read more about the launch party madness here and Mashable’s tease from a week earlier here.

So, there you go. A pretty nifty experience for an ad- and Mac-geek like myself. I don’t know if it’ll bring me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, but I thank you all nonetheless.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • demalion
    • 7 years ago

    Wow!

    Congratulations, Jason, it made my day to see this. 🙂

    • Aphasia
    • 7 years ago

    Congrats Jason. I love hearing about tales of success like these. Shows a nifty idea can take you somewhere something almost beyond imagination as long as you believe in it.

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]I don't know if it'll bring me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, but I thank you all nonetheless. [/quote<] Feeling like a champion, Fox? /hattip for a good reference.

      • Shobai
      • 7 years ago

      I imagine it’s been no bed of roses, that’s for sure.

        • DeadOfKnight
        • 7 years ago

        No pleasure cruise.

    • LocalCitizen
    • 7 years ago

    Congrats Jason. Fantastic stuff.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 7 years ago

    very awesome man, I’ll be picking it up. The design to me seems very Microsoft. At first I thought the cover was the box for MS Office 2010,however its a Apple book. Again good job and I look forward to reading it

      • Noigel
      • 7 years ago

      I like the yellow, I think it is very un-Apple, and I like that it was chosen for the book. Lee’s his own dude, he may have worked hip to hip at Apple, but I’d argue it’s not an Apple book..

    • adam1378
    • 7 years ago

    Cool story. It had to be surreal to meet the people behind the iconic Apple ads. Best of luck young man!

    • Jason_Fox
    • 7 years ago

    Thanks, almost everyone. Yellow is one of Chiat’s official colors, but most of the spreads do not feature it. I just happened to upload those.

    • dashbarron
    • 7 years ago

    Congrats Fox, really cool!

    Now we’re going to hear more about this on the podcast…right?

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 7 years ago

    You should have exposed this bias earlier! 😉

      • ImSpartacus
      • 7 years ago

      This isn’t about some Apple bias. This is about promoting externally produced work for personal gain. If he did an enormous feature on it and and ended it with something like, “if you want more you can buy the book here, blah blah blah,” then it’d be cool.

      But instead, it’s just a shameless plug.

        • jss21382
        • 7 years ago

        but Scott plugging it last week in an etc post was ok?

    • Decelerate
    • 7 years ago

    Congratulations on the recognition! It’s always nice to see a bold initiative pay off monetarily/intellectually/etc.

    I got dibs on @JasonFoxiPhone5

    • Game_boy
    • 7 years ago

    Did TR pay you for this blog? Which advertises your own book, and not even in a critical way that would justify it being an article?

    Nice way to abuse a contract if so.

      • Yeats
      • 7 years ago

      Get out of your Mom’s basement and get a job, and maybe you’ll learn there’s no “abuse” here.

        • Game_boy
        • 7 years ago

        Maybe I should get a job doing self-promotion on tech websites.

        Seriously 14 downvotes and no one’s bothered to say how I’m wrong?

          • Cyril
          • 7 years ago

          Jason’s post was proofed and edited by two full-time TR editors before going up. There’s no abuse here, I assure you.

            • ImSpartacus
            • 7 years ago

            Then this means TR’s policies allow such abuse. I’m disappointed that this is associated with TR, but appreciate the transparency about the editing process.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            why? you’re crazy. one of the writers has a book…. and?!?!?!? you’re just mad cause it’s apple related. geez guys, can’t we appreciate the success he had?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            It’s so not Apple related.

            • Game_boy
            • 7 years ago

            It’s OK since TR are aware of it. It’s their site.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            I hope that was sarcasm.

            No, I [i<]really[/i<] hope that was sarcasm. Otherwise it suggests a very deep lack of perspective.

            • Game_boy
            • 7 years ago

            Thanks.

      • LoneWolf15
      • 7 years ago

      I signed in just to minus this post.

      • dashbarron
      • 7 years ago

      These are blogs which are clearly opinion pieces with personal contributions. This is indeed tech related…and it’s his [b<]blog[/b<]. He's not posting this on the front page as news and hocking the book, he's telling about his experiment, a bit about advertisement, and an incredible opportunity he's had. The book deal was a positive outcome of 3+ years of work of this entire situation. I'm glad his story has a happy ending and I don't see anything wrong with this content where it is.

        • Game_boy
        • 7 years ago

        TR pays Jason for the blog content because it draws readers. In some sense it’s not “his” blog, it’s TR’s commissioned editorial. I was concerned he’d done a self promoting post and then was being paid for it like it was content, without their knowledge. As you saw, TR know about it. That’s all I wanted.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          Believe me when I say that nobody minds this but you. Remember, Scott advertised it as well when the interview ran.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Is it just me? I actually don’t see how this is somehow a self-promotion. Sure, you see that “it’s coming out,” but the blog is mostly about how this happened, a life experience resulting in an end product. If that’s not appropriate use of a blog, what is?

      • designerfx
      • 7 years ago

      I get the point, it’s shameless self promotion. however, I don’t get what contract abuse there is? If there was a problem the editors wouldn’t let him post it, surely. I mean how dare people promote their own things, like they have interest or something.
      What’s next, techsupport having *ads* involving technology? Say it ain’t so! (sarcasm)

      While I think their policies on adblocking are idiotic and insulting to readers as the ads on techreport are straight up annoying, I don’t see anything wrong with what is being done in this article here.

        • Game_boy
        • 7 years ago

        If you actually read, you’d see that I already read Cyril’s post confirming there was no abuse and thanked him for it, five days ago. But apparently I get downvoted for that too?

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          Well…I think maybe your premise was wrong to begin with. Again, maybe I’m just not seeing it, but I don’t think that this post constitutes abuse in any way. It’s not an advertisement for a book or pet project other than mentioning in a fairly general sense. I felt it was mainly an exposition on how this project went from a fun Twitter idea to a book and app. There is no plea to buy or pre-order anything, just a mention of availability.

    • tanker27
    • 7 years ago

    Congratulations Jason. This is very cool.

    • Yeats
    • 7 years ago

    Very, very cool.

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    excellent work, jason! nice to see you coming up in the world! You know I love you, even if you are a mac guy!

    • Forge
    • 7 years ago

    Duplicity, it’s addictive. Next thing you know, you aren’t sure what your name really is, but you’re ok with that because you can now read “confused/indecisive” for any and every question asked via polygraph.

    • phez
    • 7 years ago

    Did you ask him why he used so much gosh darn yellow? My eyes … 😐

      • Damage
      • 7 years ago

      Edited that for you. Try not be rude.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        Out of curiosity… what was it before editing? Just trying to figure out what is considered rude here… (e.g., speaking about god(s))?

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          don’t forget Scott was after a theology degree….

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            I didn’t know that.

            • DancinJack
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]An incurable hardware freak with a penchant for creating elaborate benchmark graphs, Scott heads up the crew here at The Tech Report. After earning bachelors and masters degrees in religion, Scott couldn't resist the pull of the fledgling Internet, so he jumped into the IT industry.[/quote<] [url<]https://techreport.com/aboutus.x[/url<]

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    Two things I refuse to use/view in my life. But congratulations!

      • sparkman
      • 7 years ago

      Books and software?

        • AssBall
        • 7 years ago

        Twitter and advertisements.

          • indeego
          • 7 years ago

          OK now three. 🙂

    • tfp
    • 7 years ago

    Jason that’s awesome congrads man!

    • TheEmrys
    • 7 years ago

    Pretty spiffy. Like the design alot.

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