Lee Clow, whose ads helped put Apple Inc. on the map, is retiring from the agency he joined five decades ago, he announced on Thursday.
Mr. Clow, 75, joined Chiat/Day—now TBWAChiatDay and part of Omnicom Group Inc. —around 45 years ago as an art director. He worked closely with Apple for more than 30 of those years. Over time, he built a relationship with former Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and helped create the dystopian “1984” Super Bowl commercial that launched the Macintosh computer, as well as the “Think Different” campaign in 1997.
The “1984” ad is credited with helping transform the Super Bowl into an advertising showcase where marketers compete to produce glitzy, high-profile spots.
“During his long partnership with Steve and Apple, Lee told powerful visual stories that elevated new technologies with the passion, creativity and ingenuity that define our own humanity,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “He helped Apple carry itself through times of challenge, and his work inspired audiences to look beyond the horizon as an exciting future came into view.”
Mr. Clow also helped create the Energizer Bunny that “keeps going and going,” as well as slogans like “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” for the fast-food brand and “Impossible Is Nothing” for Adidas.
Madison Avenue is losing one of its creative pioneers at a time when the industry is undergoing massive change. The shops known for big, long-thought-out ideas are now under pressure to churn out much more ad content faster and cheaper as consumers spend increasing time online and the audiences for traditional commercials fade.