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lee clow

Lee Clow Quotes

Lee Clow

Global Director of Media Arts, TBWAWorldwide
Chairman,TBWAMedia Arts Lab

Lee Clow has been making advertising for almost 40 years. He says he loves “telling the stories brands have to tell.”

Lee believes advertising is art—media art. As he says, “It must make you feel something. It can make you laugh or cry or surprise you or inform you, but you must want to watch it.”

Whether it’s the famous “1984” commercial introducing Apple’s Macintosh, or the crazy Energizer bunny still going and going, or Refreshing the World with Pepsi, or the celebration of sport in the adidas “Impossible Is Nothing” campaign, or the love you can feel for dogs in Pedigree’s “Dogs Rule” campaign, or asking “What’s G” for Gatorade, all of this is work people want to watch.

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And perhaps there’s no better example of Lee’s impact in the industry than his 30-plus-year partnership with Steve Jobs. They created the now famous work for the rebirth of Apple in 1997. It used walls, pages and films that recognized those who “Think Different.” And, during the past decade, he helped orchestrate Apple’s move into music with iPod and iTunes through the celebrated “Silhouettes” campaign, into phones with the category-redefining iPhone and then creating the “campaign of the decade” — “Mac vs PC,” — before last year forging a whole new category with iPad.

Lee continues to find the business fun and challenging. He believes we are at the beginning of the most exciting time the “advertising” business has ever seen. While lots of people are talking about the challenge of the multimedia future, he believes it is the biggest opportunity for creative minds since the first Creative Revolution of the 1960s.

“Today everything can be considered media,” Lee says. “The Internet has changed the way people interact with brands. If you like a brand, you can seek it out. If you don’t like a brand, you can criticize it publicly. So everything a brand does must tell its story in a disruptive and artful way. Then people will decide whether they like your brand or will ignore it.”

Lee’s goal for TBWA is for the agency to become artists in all media, and create ideas that can orchestrate and define how brands behave in the world.

Lee joined ChiatDay during its humble beginnings at a hotel in downtown Los Angeles, and since then the agency has grown to be one of the 10 largest global networks and is without dispute one of the most innovative and awarded agency networks in the world.

A member of the One Club Hall of Fame, the Art Directors Hall of Fame and the Museum of Modern Art’s Advertising Hall of Fame, Lee was also honored by the CLIO Awards with a Lifetime Achievement award.

Lee Clow Quotes:

Most ideas are a bit scary, and if an idea isn’t scary, it’s not an idea at all.
Lee Clow

I’d rather apologize than to be so timid as to not to try and do anything smart or brave.
Lee Clow

I found my own way of doing things.
Lee Clow

Listen real hard to the smartest guy in the room before you go trying to prove how smart you are.
Lee Clow

Creative people are 50% ego and 50% insecurity.
Lee Clow

What I’ve always loved to do is build a brand that’s so cool that you want to wear their T-shirt.
Lee Clow

[In 2007] People’s relationship with a brand is becoming a dialog, not a monolog.
Lee Clow

If you think you have a better mousetrap or car, or shirt, or whatever, you’ve got to tell people…
Lee Clow

Good advertising is a dialog with people…
Lee Clow

The smartest advertising is the advertising that communicates the best and respects the consumer’s intelligence.
Lee Clow

An incredible advertising career is not about creating an incredibly amazing ad, it’s about making an incredible amazing ad every single day of your career, it’s about getting those adds killed, and resurrecting them over and over again. It’s about your season average not that occasional home-run.
Lee Clow

This industry has created ideas that are as valuable to brands as some of the products they create. We get paid like we’re doing our clients laundry.
Lee Clow

Telling stories on behalf of brands is what I’ve done all my life.
Lee Clow

Throughout history, the technology always comes first. It’s just technology for a while, until the day we artists inherit it.
Lee Clow

It’s very demeaning that we have to put on a show to prove that we know how to put on a show.
Lee Clow

When creatively passionate people get together to start a company, the energy and camaraderie is really pretty stimulating.
Lee Clow

[On Leeclowsbeard] One day I was in the office and someone said to me, ‘Hey Lee, I loved your tweet this morning on Lee Clow’s Beard.’ That was weird. Because I don’t tweet. And what does my beard have to do with it?
Lee Clow

[On Leeclowsbeard] I mostly like the thoughts in the tweets, I just didn’t tweet them.
Lee Clow

[On Leeclowsbeard] While I may not have technically tweeted these tweets, I certainly believe they are truisms. In fact, I’ve approved them coming from my beard. Jason told me at lunch that he had to make a choice when he started his daily observations. You could have been reading this advertising wisdom from ‘Jeff Goodby’s Ponytail.’
Lee Clow

I have always felt the word ‘advertising’ is either a diminutive or derogatory term that kind of goes with stuff people don’t like, and I always felt frustrated because I felt like I was a communication artist or a media artist. The best advertising is one of the art forms of our culture.
Lee Clow

We had to reach back and find the soul of the company once again.
Lee Clow

[In 2004 on being at TBWA Chiat Day for 30 years.] Different people are different in terms of the way they’re made. I knew since the day I arrived at Chiat Day that I was at home, and that I was at a place where I could prove my talent and my ability… I am also married for 35 years too, so it could just be how I am.
Lee Clow

The only reason you should move to a new job is if you are not getting the opportunity to do what you want to do and what you believe you can do.
Lee Clow

Ultimately, if you are doing great work, the money will come.
Lee Clow

This business… has a lot more to do with persistence, perseverance and endurance than brilliance.
Lee Clow

If you are always trying to do something great and different and fresh, lots of them are going to be shut down for lots of stupid or good reasons, but you have to keep on trying.
Lee Clow

When they kill one, you have to go and try to make another one. If you do enough eventually a few of them will make it through the gauntlet.
Lee Clow

It’s all a matter of keeping on doing it over and over again…
Lee Clow

What I know how to do is nurture and help people discover the best opportunities…
Lee Clow

Most people who are deemed ‘mean’ are usually perfectionist who make mediocre people unhappy, cause they put more pressure on them then they can handle.
Lee Clow

Steve [Jobs] is unique. There aren’t many clients that are like that. You have one guy that you really work for. That’s very rare.
Lee Clow

A thing that most creatives don’t do well is that you’ve gotta learn to listen.
Lee Clow

The best way to get a relationship is to listen like hell to what they’re saying.
Lee Clow

[In 2004] That’s how I got a relationship with Steve Jobs. Because I listened really hard to him cause he’s the smartest guy I ever worked for…
Lee Clow

Advertising can be a very frustrating business.
Lee Clow

You have to be daring and make something that doesn’t look like anybody else.
Lee Clow

[In 2011 on Steve Jobs] He was the most amazing person I have ever know. He was a genius. He was an innovator. He was the best client we ever had. He was my friend.
Lee Clow

[In 2011] What Steve Jobs did was simply make everything and everyone better.
Lee Clow

When you open an Apple product it’s like a religious experience.
Lee Clow

Everything a brand does is advertising.
Lee Clow

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