TBWA Chiat/Day Inc.
Chief creative officer
Think of a major ad campaign that has burrowed its way into the public consciousness in the last decade or more. Chances are, one of the following images comes to mind:
An eery “1984”-style ad for Apple Computer in which a lone runner throws a hammer through a screen. A pink Energizer bunner that keeps going and going. Nike’s “Air Jordan” launch. A clown-headed CEO named Jack. Or, last year, a Japanese man with rose-colored glasses urging people to “Enjoy the Ride.”
Lee Clow was the creative impetus behind all those campaigns. As creative director at Chiat/Day since 1977, Clow has achieved a level of respect and admiration enjoyed by a select few ad executives around the country. That was reflected in his induction two months ago into The One Club’s Creative Hall of Fame.
Clow’s three favorite words are “breaking the rules,” a mantra he has expressed in numerous interviews.
“I think our job as communicators is, how do we help the brand or companies we work for stand out?” he told the Business Journal, when asked what elements make for great advertising. “If you just go down the same tried and true paths, you usually end up with a pretty uninteresting brand or company.”
Asked which of his own well-known campaigns were his favorites, Clow cited three: the “1984” commercial for Apple, and the current work for Energizer and Nissan.
Perhaps because of his long hair and casual style, Clow presents a public image as a laid-back surfer-type. But people who work with him say that’s not at all the case.
“He is one of the most conservative, old-school ad executives you’ll ever meet,” said one former Chiat/Day employee.