Do we think different? Well, not really.

Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, which relaunched its corporate image in 1997 and then introduced the iMac was not written by Steve Jobs, according to Rob Siltanen, a former executive who was on the agency’s Apple account at the time. The phrase came from Craig Tanimoto, an art director at TBWA, Siltanen says in a piece written for Forbes.

It’s interesting stuff: Especially as Walter Isaacson’s recent biography of Jobs says that Jobs used the phrase “Think Different” in a speech before the ad campaign was released. He had heard the tagline delivered to him in pitch meetings form the TBWA team prior to the address at Boston MacWorld that August.

And that former TBWA creative director Ken Segall previously told Cult of Mac, “I’m the author of the Think Different campaign” (Although he did credit Tanimoto with dreaming up the slogan, which was up on a wall in the office with a bunch of other things before it was finally selected as the official tagline.) And, of course, TBWA chairman Lee Clow was credited with proposing “Think Different” to Jobs in Alan Deutschman’s 2001 book, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs Apple - Profile Photo

Doubtless there is a difference between specifically originating the phrase “Think Different”; being the author of the entire campaign (which both Siltanen and Segall claim); proposing the phrase to Jobs; and Jobs himself using the phrase publicly first. They were all on the Apple/TBWA team, working together. The stories don’t specifically contradict each other.

Success has many fathers, unfortunately we just don’t know who the first one is in this situation.

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