If you like watching Super Bowl ads, you should probably thank Lee Clow.
If you own anything made by Apple, you should probably thank Lee Clow.
(chairman, TBWA\MEDIA ARTS LAB)
While Jay Chiat’s and Guy Day’s names were on the door, much of what I think of as defining work from Chiat/Day (now TBWA) is thanks to Lee Clow.
He helped Chiat/Day win Advertising Age’s “Agency of the Year” in 1980 and 1988, and “Agency of the Decade” in 1989.
Clow helped give us one of the most defining ads of the 21st century in the “1984” TV spot that helped launch Apple Computers. That same team gave us Apple’s “Think Different” slogan, work with the Energizer Bunny, the Taco Bell Chihuahua and later teams at Chiat/Day would create the iconic Apple iPod silhouette ads.
Lee Clow is currently one of four people to receive the Cannes Lion of St. Mark award for outstanding contribution to creativity in advertising and communication over their lifetime. Clow was the third ever recipient, with Sir John Hegarty and Dan Wieden being the only ones to precede him. They were joined by film maker Joe Ptyka in 2014.
What inspires me about Lee Clow is twofold: one, his signature laid back California demeanor and two, his relentless work ethic.
In an industry known for its Madison Avenue suits, Clow has remained true to his California lifestyle. He helped put west coast advertising on the map, all while wearing his now signature shorts and flip flops.
And today, Clow refuses to walk away. When asked about his mentor Jay Chiat, it is clear that a relentless work ethic and demand for prefection was passed down. And when you add that to passion for your work, great things happen.
And don’t expect that to change for Clow anytime soon. I read an interview where Clow said,
“I’m going to only do the stuff I want to do, as long as I want to do it. The thing about retiring in total is I still love coming in and hanging out with young smart people and working on ideas. If I can avoid all the stuff I don’t like, I can just do that. The alternative is not coming to work anymore and hanging out with people my age, which doesn’t sound near as appealing as hanging out with these cool young smart people that work in our company.”
That’s how I want to be for all of my career.