Filmmaker and “The Ashtray” author Errol Morris has worked with many CEOs on advertisements. After watching Morris’s 2002 Oscars short, Steve Jobs hired Morris to direct Apple’s “Switch” ads. These ads featured people discussing their switch from the Microsoft Windows platform to Apple. Some of the notable appearances in these ads include Tony Hawk, Will Ferrell, and members of De La Soul.
Of all the CEOs Morris has worked with, Morris claims Steve Jobs was the most involved in the creative process. According to Morris, Steve Jobs was invested with the advertisements to the point of calling Morris at 2 or 3 in the morning.
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Following is a transcript of the video:
Errol Morris: The only CEO who ever called me at two or three in the morning to argue about his advertising, it’s fantastic. I won’t say that Steve Jobs is the only CEO that I made commercials for that I would talk to on a regular basis but he was one of the very, very few. He was completely involved and in marketing Apple products. To think of him as a hands-off CEO, not so much.
Steve Jobs hired Errol Morris after his 2002 Oscars short to direct Apple’s “Switch” ads.
Tony Hawk: On a professional level we use Final Cut Pro for all of our skate videos. My name is Tony Hawk, I’m a professional skateboarder.
Errol Morris: He really wanted to argue with me. But I think my chances of winning were close to nil. But he would have argued forever or for a long, long, long time.
Taking what someone says to you in front of the camera and turning it into a 30 second commercial, I don’t like to mess with the raw material for whatever reason. I think there’s a flow in how people talk and a kind of often hidden logic to what they’re saying that you want to find a way to preserve.
Steve Jobs would look at the material and he would have a set of bullet points, things he wanted to emphasize and why shouldn’t he. He’s the CEO of a major corporation. Me, little Errol had a different idea. I thought they should be edited with little blocks that kind of preserve the character of the person talking, that it captured something about that person. And in doing so that was a more effective means of advertising than just simply laying out bullet points.
He tells me the story of the old guy who lived down the road, you know everyone should have an old guy who lived down the road story hyphenated. And he had a rock tumbler in his garage. As explained to me by Steve Jobs you put all these rough rocks in the rock tumbler and you turned it on and you let them grind against each other for say a week or so. And they became smooth and polished. So he was comparing the two of us to this rock tumbler. I loved working for him.
When I’m being interviewed and the person comes out with a list of questions that they’re going to ask and they pick them off one by one by one I know it’s going to be a lousy interview. You seem stunned.