In his authorized biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson drives the point home that the late Apple CEO was nothing if not passionate. Indeed, he was so passionate about the things that he cared for, ranging from the biggest management decision to the smallest detail in a prototype, that he ended up being quite brutal. Isaacson also points out some of Jobs’ moments of fondness towards the people and the things around him, but none is probably able to hold a handle to what Ken Segall has just revealed in his new book about Jobs and his well-regarded company.
Segall is the creative director of Jobs’ preferred advertising agency, Chiat\Day. He played an integral part in the revival of Apple with Jobs at the helm. He was responsible for getting the famous “Think different” marketing campaign underway as well as for starting Apple’s “i” product naming convention with his “iMac” idea. Obviously, Segall has spent enough time in Cupertino to be privy to the goings-on inside Apple, particularly Jobs’ bursts of passion. And in his book due out today, “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success,” Segall recounts what could be the most amusing, not to mention the least brutal, among Jobs’ passionate episodes as Apple CEO.
As highlighted by MacRumors, Segall shares that Jobs wanted to celebrate the one millionth sale of the original iMac with a bang. And his idea was “to do a Willy Wonka with it.” Segall explains,
Just as Wonka did in the movie, Steve wanted to put a golden certificate representing the millionth iMac inside the box of one iMac, and publicize that fact. Whoever opened the lucky iMac box would be refunded the purchase price and be flown to Cupertino, where he or she (and, presumably, the accompanying family) would be taken on a tour of the Apple campus.
Steve had already instructed his internal creative group to design a prototype golden certificate, which he shared with us. But the killer was that Steve wanted to go all out on this. He wanted to meet the lucky winner in full Willy Wonka garb. Yes, complete with top hat and tails.
How about that? As if Jobs wasn’t Wonkaesque enough, he actually wanted to dress up as the famous fictional factory owner and welcome his own Charlie to his own factory. Those who heard about this playful plan of Jobs’ were naturally amused, but they were not so keen on seeing it push through. Incidentally, California law dictated that no purchase should be necessary for people to enter in a sweepstake like the one being planned by Jobs. This practically meant giving free iMacs away and, worse, enabling non-Apple fans to win. As a result of this, the idea suffered the same fate as one of Willy Wonka’s spoiled visitors, Veruca Salt: it was thrown down the rubbish chute.
I for one would have liked to see Jobs get to be Wonka for a day. He might have also sung one of the songs in the 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder, “Pure Imagination,” whose lyrics could very well apply to Jobs’ factory:
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of