Steve-then-now photo caption:
(left): Steve Beaumont 24 years ago
(right): Steve Beaumont 1 day ago
See? This is what I like. When I hear from a lost alum, I'm looking for photos and human interest. And boy, Steve Beaumont has supplied it in spades. I am posting the whole thing, instead of just a link, because it is so good. Thank you, Steve, for taking the time to write this and send it to me.
As I write this on my MacBook Pro, I can’t help but remember the Apple days of 1984 and Steve Jobs telling us how this little boxy computer was going to revolutionize the world. Jay was into it – although he probably related more to Jobs’ passion than anything. Lee was into it – although a free Macintosh 120K machine sat untouched for years on his Biltmore “corner office” table turned on with a simple “hello” written on the screen. And the agency was into it – although it wasn’t necessarily about changing the world. For most of us it was the chance to simply do great work. The changing of the world would come later.
I had sent Lee a letter requesting an interview after I saw “1984” on the Superbowl. After not hearing back for a week, I called Lee and was surprised when he answered the phone. It was clear he hadn’t remembered the letter but he said to come by with my book. After 10 minutes he handed me off to Steve Hayden who quickly handed me off to Dave Butler. After sitting in an empty conference room another 20 minutes wondering what was going to happen next, I finally got in the elevator and went back to my job at Dailey.
A couple days later Hayden called and offered me a job on Apple. They were looking for someone to replace the talented Brent Thomas who was leaving to start his directing career. I said yes and hung up the phone without asking about a starting salary. Days later, I worked up the nerve to call him back to ask about a salary. Hayden asked “What are you making now?” I told him 40K and he said he would talk to Lee. He called back and said Lee was fine with that and they would pay me 40K. Clearly this experience was going to be about the work, not the money.
I was paired with the great Penny Kapasouz who had graduated from receptionist to writing the famous “the computer for the rest of us” Macintosh insert and we instantly sold every ad we thought of together. Or at least it seemed that way. Truth is we hand-made hundreds of comps in Amy’s studio to sell a handful of ads but when they ran, they ran everywhere. We didn’t recommend pages. We insisted on the impact of spreads. And when everyone else was running spreads, we insisted on the impact of multiple-page inserts. For the 1986 presidential election I was assigned the job of art directing every single ad page in one issue of Newsweek magazine sponsored by Apple.
And yet the size of the ad was never the goal for Lee. It was the brilliance of the idea. Yamaha brochures, Pizza Hut tent cards and Apple small space newspaper ads all won big awards. Later Butler hired Dave Lubars and he and I teamed up to fill the award books with Apple, Pizza Hut, Yamaha and Nissan truck work. Every new hire seemed to contribute great thinking immediately. The agency has always attracted the best talent and late every night I felt the doom of my own self-doubt when walking past the reception desk piled high with portfolios seeking an audience with Clow or Butler.
I art directed the “Chiat/Day wants to work on your car” poster which we sent to them trying to get in the pitch. After we got the business I think Lee let me art direct the first Porsche insert because I stayed with the pitch long after everyone’s ideas were rejected in the “Treehouse.” I comped up Penny’s, Brent Bouchez’s and Hayden’s ideas and eventually the best of their writing was put into a single 12-page insert which Lee sent me to Germany to produce. He and Guy Day had met with Dr. Porsche the week before in Stuttgart and I passed him in the air while going to scout for the insert photography and a “Porsche Museum” TV spot both shot by Marc Coppos. After scouting bombed out train stations, a ball bearing factory and empty warehouses I called Lee back in L.A. to report on what I had seen and to ask him what he thought he wanted as he had made all the promises to Dr. Porsche the week before and we hadn’t talked since. He replied, “Never mind what I told Dr. Porsche. Pick the best location make it great.” Stunned, I paused and said. “Okay.” He ended the conversation with, “Anything else?” “No, I got it.” I said.
In those days, Jay was in New York and we knew he was coming when memos went out telling us to clean our cubicles. At one of our creative meetings he told us “I want you hear this from me: We are going to lose every piece of business we have. It’s the nature of advertising. If we let the work suffer for any reason - and it’s bad - we’ll never be able to show it in a new business meeting later to replace lost business. So don’t let anyone including clients f____ it up”
To this day, Lee’s and Jay’s words and the agency milestones achieved during those 1984-1988 years continue to inspire me. I’ve had my own advertising design business (www.stevebeaumont.com) for three years now and the idea of three or four individuals working on $3,000 Macintosh computers from their home offices and actually helping to move other people’s businesses forward would have boggled the minds of an unchanged world back in 1983. But 1984 changed everything. Now anything is possible.
Congratulations to the agency on surviving 40 years so brilliantly. And for inspiring the rest of us to try and do the same.
1984 Apple group photo caption:
(standing left to right): Steve Beaumont, Penny Kapousouz, Christine Donohoe, Lee Clow, Elaine Hinton, Laurie Brandalise. Steve Hayden, Marc Chiat, Stephen Kessler, Steve Rabosky, Joe Sosa, Richard O’Neill. (Sitting left to right): Diana Barton, Gary Johnston, Harry Ray