Following a report last week claiming that Apple is shifting more of its TV advertising in house, Ad Age has taken an extensive look at the company’s new marketing strategies. To regain its edge amid tough competition, Apple has been working hard on assembling an in-house creative team that will eventually number 1000 employees. The company is going after some of the top advertising talent, even poaching executives from its longtime partner TBWA/Media Arts Lab.
Apple now employs the controversial tactic of pitting TBWA against its internal team, siding with whoever comes up with the best creative ideas and running with it. The in-house team has already won at least a few campaigns, including an ad for the iPad Air last year showing off the thinness of the tablet. The internal team was also behind another iPad Air called Your Verse, featuring American actor Robin Williams…
The move to an in-house team is not exactly surprising. Apple was once considered to be a maverick in the advertising world, partnering with TBWA to produce the iconic “Think Different” and “I’m a Mac” campaigns in the late-1990s and mid-2000s respectively. TBWA also created the iconic Orwellian ad for the Macintosh that aired once during the Superbowl in 1984.
Apple’s recent creative efforts have been less inspiring, however, with iPhone 4S ads featuring Zooey Deschanel and Samuel L. Jackson and Genius ads during the London Olympics largely failing to impress. In fact, the latter campaign was pulled within the first week of the Olympics, even if TBWA claims that was the plan the entire time. So perhaps a change in creative strategy was needed.
But Apple’s new marketing strategies extend beyond TBWA and an in-house team. According to Ad Age, the company has also been calling outside shops to work on various projects. San Francisco-based Pereira & O’Dell, the agency that produced the Emmy- and Cannes-Lion-winning social film “Beauty Inside” for Intel and Toshiba, has turned down Apple on two occasions because of its existing clients.
Apple is constantly under pressure as the world’s most valuable tech corporation, with the narrative of late being that the iPhone maker has largely failed to innovate since the passing of late co-founder Steve Jobs. Last month, Google overtook Apple for top spot in BrandZ’s annual ranking of the Most Valuable Global Brands, a list that Apple topped for three consecutive years.
Expanding its in-house team is easier said than done. Some ad executives are worried about the high living costs in Cupertino, while others are skeptical about the brand. “I don’t feel that energy from Apple,” one top agency executive told Ad Age. “The revolution has come and gone, and I’m not sure a job at Apple would be a creative opportunity. If I were going to go brand-side, there are a lot more interesting companies I’d rather work for, like Coke or Pepsi.”
At the same time, Apple is an iconic company that many executives wouldn’t pass up the chance to work for. ”There are probably only a handful of places that have that level of expectation of quality and can afford to pay people to do work to make it successful,” said another exec contacted by Apple recruitment, speaking with Ad Age.
Apple has bolstered its in-house team by hiring some big names in the advertising field: Karl Heiselman, former Wolff Olins’ Global CEO; Hector Muelas and Ricardo Viramontes, Media Arts Lab Creative Directors; Larry Corwin, Creative Director at Google and BBDO and several others. Apple has turned to former Madison Avenue recruiters to help with its head-hunting efforts.
Apple and TBWA will continue working in tandem for at least the foreseeable future, but their relationship appears rocky at best. With the industry being as competitive as it is, and rival Samsung spending billions of dollars on marketing, Apple is looking to become more creative and innovative with its advertising. You could say that it’s living up to it’s mantra of “thinking different.”
The full-length article at Ad Age is a long but worthwhile read.
Apple and TBWA declined to comment.