Lee Clow’s Beard: Word’s of Advertising Wisdom

Lee Clow's Beard

If you think social media is hard to comprehend – the answers may be in our past!

I was reading an Ad Age aricle this morning, “Lee Clow on Advertising, Then and Now”. Ad Age has referred to Lee Clow as “advertising’s art director guru”.  He was a personal friend of Steve Jobs for some thirty years. He’s known for co-creating Apple Computer’s 1984 commercial “Think Different”, which is considered to be the greatest Super Bowl commercial ever.

“Working closely with Steve Jobs, Lee Clow went on to create additional advertising for the launches of the iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and most recently, the iPad, and he coined the tag “Think Different.”and Apple’s “Think Different” slogan. Lee Clow was also instrumental in creating Nissan’s “Enjoy the Ride” slogan, and was behind creative work for Adidas, Nike, Reebok, Pedigree, and countless other multinational brands.”  From the book, leecloudsbeard

His creative campaigns also includes: the Energizer Bunny, California Cooler and Taco Bell Chihuahua.

After remaining relevant for four decades, Clow is being honored with the distinguished Lion of St. Mark award for his contribution to creative advertising. The award has only been given to two other people.

Lee’s no spring chicken, and at fifty-six, neither am I.  Toward the end of his career he is witnessing the greatest revolution in advertising in its history brought about by new technology and new media. Lee was asked by Ad Age about the changes in advertising, what is better today and what advertising hasn’t figured out. He is his response: 

  • “Brands have the ability and access to connect with people in all kinds of ways and have an ongoing dialogue and relationship with them as opposed to the monologue, how it used to be.” 
  • We haven’t come close to figuring out how to use all these new-media opportunities, and most clients are very conflicted about what media they should use, why and how. They keep thinking there’s some new silver bullet in the new-media world that will allow them to save money or find a new way to twist consumers’ arms.”

Lee Chow has become an advertising icon and his popularity is souring because of social media. 

Ironically, Lee has had no personal participation and presence in social media.

In 2009, writer/creative director, Jason Fox, created a Twitter account as paradoy, @leeclowsbeard, “a daily offering of advertising satire from the beard of Lee Clow.” In a short period of time @leeclowsbeard grew to over 34,000 followers.

Here are some of the Tweets of advertising wisdom from @LeeClowsBeard:

  • No point setting up a client on Twitter if you can’t help them step it up on Twitter.
  • Work that is too clever isn’t.
  • Seven layers make for a great dip and a hideous approval process.
  • The customer is always right. Which is why we don’t call clients customers.
  • Too many concepts confuse the committee.
  • Bad work is never cost-effective.
  • Sadly, the fact that advertising is 90% common sense is not even 10% common knowledge.
  • A generic stock image is a cost-effective way of signaling people that you have nothing different or worthwhile to say.
  • If being reasonable leads to being irrelevant, rant on.
  • Sometimes you have to play the villain with the client before you can make them look like a hero with the public.
  • We strive to capture attention that we might set imaginations free.
  • I love clients who get it. I also love clients who don’t, but trust us anyway.
  • Consensus too often equals a bunch of usually smart people agreeing to do something dumb so they can go have lunch.
  • Serve the brand instead of the brand manager and you might just survive the next CMO change.

Many assumed Lee Clow was the author, even some of his closest friends and colleauges, but he wasn’t even aware of the Twitter account until a fan congratulated him. He then discovered the Tweets were actually coming from Jason. Rather than insisting that Jason shut down the account, Lee embraced it. He had his team produce the following video. recounting his side of the @leeclowsbeard story:

A story about NEW MEDIA, OLD MEDIA, NEW TECHNOLOGY and Lee’s OLD BEARD. How his OLD BEARD took on a life of its own by opening up a Twitter account.

Lee has quickly figured out how to use this new media opportunity.  There’s now an official website:  http://leeclowsbeard.com and the joint publication of the official book of Lee Clow’s beard as well as an App and iBook.

Read Ad Age’s article, “Lee Clow on Advertising, Then and Now” Even Though the Biz Has Changed, Legendary Adman Still Sees a Lot of ‘Joy’ in It

A special thank you to David Schwartz for the inspiration for this article.

About Michael Gass

Michael Gass is a Business Development Consultant to Advertising, Digital, Media and PR Agencies | Speaker | Author of Fuel Lines