Think Different, when Apple was almost out of business. It was the beginning of the turnaround. To be part of the Apple story was probably the most special opportunity you could have as an advertising person. 

question Please give us a brief (if that’s possible) background on yourself.

When I was a kid growing up, I could draw. Then I got the job I always wanted at Chiat\Day, and I never left.

question What have been the most memorable moments in your career?

Working for Steve Jobs on Apple. (both times). 

question What have been the moments you’d rather forget?

Being fired by Apple Computer (John Scully). And Nike and Levi’s and Sony PlayStation and Honda cars and Pedigree and Skittles and American Express and Chivas Regal and Tag Heur and Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. 

question Do you ever consider retirement?

I think about it all the time, particularly when I have a bad meeting, but then I realize that being around ideas and young people who have them is just too invigorating and exciting to walk away from until they don’t want me around anymore! 

question Do you feel it’s the younger generation who have all the great ideas or does experience and your natural instinct still give you an edge?

I think young, amazingly bright people are always the fuel of our business; they have the energy, the drive, the stamina to do what we do. And at the same time, I think my experience and knowledge of brand building and storytelling allows me to be a great coach and mentor to the young talent who are discovering the challenges of having and selling good ideas.  

question Project wise, what’s the one campaign that stands out in your mind as being the best one your team launched?

Think Different, when Apple was almost out of business. It was the beginning of the turnaround. To be part of the Apple story was probably the most special opportunity you could have as an advertising person.  

question How many hours sleep do you get each night?

I usually get 8 or 9. I like sleeping. 

question What are the biggest challenges your company faces?

Defining what we do for clients going forward, The industry and the clients still, have a lot of confusion about what new media means to the totality of brand building and storytelling. I believe our responsibility is still to the total brand message, which means almost everything the brand does is a story that needs to be true to the brand’s idea and the brand’s position. So involvement in everything, from old media to new media to packaging to even product design, I see as our total responsibility.

Clients are still trying to come to grips with what responsibility they give to their advertising company and what they think they need to do with other resources, whether they be digital, design or other ancillary storytelling companies that are out there. I still love, like, believe that our job is to orchestrate all things that a brand uses to tell its brand story; making that clear, understandable and having the talent to execute on that promise is the challenge. 

question What mobile phone do you carry?

iPhone 5. 

question Do you have Instagram installed on your phone?


question Please take a photo with your phone right now and post it to Instagram and share the link with us.


question Who have been your favourite clients over the years?

Apple when Steve was there, and adidas. 

question Is there a brand you still would love to work with?


question If someone reading this is thinking of starting an agency, what would be the most important tips you could give them?

If you start an agency, it’s probably because you believe your talent can deliver something special to a client. Never stop having that be your passion. Your talent and your work are who you are.  

question Is there a project you have seen lately that you wish you’d created?

The Kraken black spiced rum is a wonderful totality of design, storytelling and fun packaging. Go to http://www.krakenrum.com. You’ll like it.  

question If the fire alarm goes off right now, what would you grab, if anything?

My wife and my dogs.  

question Do you personally get involved in the hiring and firing process?

Sometimes I help hire. I take the day off when someone has to be fired.   

question Do you have much spare time to pursue a hobby?

Even though I’ve not retired, I’ve been taking more time to play tennis, do some art and design around the house and spend a little time on my boat.  

question Most people want to leave their mark on the world by writing a book or maybe having a plant named after their partner… you have been incredibly successful but is there anything you still strive to achieve outside of your work, something to be remembered by?

I really have no interest in writing a book. But if the work my wife and I are  doing to help homeless animals, particularly dogs in shelters… if I could, (at the agency we’re working with Best Friends Animal Society  http://www.bestfriends.org) … make a dent in that problem, that would be something I’d love to be remembered for. 

question Is there anything special you do when your team launches a new project, i.e. something you do at every launch?

Usually go to a lunch or a dinner, drink a lot of wine and laugh.  

question Have you ever had an idea which you didn’t pursue and later saw someone make a huge success out of a similar idea?

No, but we’ve seen a number of ideas that we’ve presented and had rejected taken by someone else who made a giant success out of it.   

question Technology continues to rapidly change and grow. Does this scare you or excite you?

I believe technology and this whole digital and social world we live in is an amazing environment for brands and for storytelling. I still don’t think the power of it has been harnessed by marketers. I think they see it as some new, magic silver bullet as opposed to understanding its power as an element of a brand’s conversation with its audience. I think it’s exciting, the challenge of harnessing its power on behalf of brands. But it’s also the struggle we are going through right now.

question Has anyone ever asked you for an autograph? 


question Do you personally respond to all email that is sent for your attention (excluding spam of course), or do you delegate to your team?

I have to admit, I do have someone who edits so I don’t answer the ones that are inconsequential, but any that are personal I try and answer myself. 

question We’d love a recommendation from you as to who we should interview next in this series.

You guys might want to talk to Jim Riswold. He’s quite the amazing, eccentric creative talent who’s contributed some of the most amazing messages on behalf of brands with a very strange approach to both the creative process and the client relationship. 

question Thanks for taking time out for this interview and please leave us with one interesting or even intriguing fact about yourself.

I’ve been married to the same person all of my adult life, and I’ve had the same job for all of my adult life.


Lee Clow
Lee Clow

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