Apple building an internal ad agency

Amid criticisms that it has failed to innovate, Apple is increasingly taking marketing into its own hands. It’s madly building an internal agency that it’s telling recruits will eventually number 1,000.

It will be very interesting to see what comes out of this.

  • James Hughes

    The post Jobs ads never loaded. Anyway, who cares. It’s all hit and miss. Look at the time lines between the ads. It’s not like these are the only ads. They were hand picked to illustrate a point. A weak point if you ask me. More “things are different now that Steve is gone” duh. No fucking kidding.

    • Kriztyan

      Yes, I have to agree. This Apple is doomed with out Steve Jobs thing is getting old. Not to undermine Steve, but I think Apple is in good hands still. The PC market is shrinking, or at least not growing, so Mac vs. PC ads don’t make sense at this point. The Mac is doing better than ever. People are finally realizing that they really don’t need Windows, particularly at the consumer level. But then again, some are also realizing they don’t need a computer at all. So adapting to this new reality is what advertisers must concentrate from this point on. Maybe Apple should go directly against Android as they did with the Mac vs. PC adds. They could expose the vulnerability and fragmented nature of that platform. Both very real Android problems.

      • the PC market is definitely shrinking.

  • Moeskido

    I’m skeptical that an in-house department can provide Apple with a sufficient perception of the world outside its own cultural bubble. The value of a good agency is to provide a point of view that Wasn’t Invented Here.

    I’ll be interested to see what Ken Segall thinks of this.

    • John V.

      They have an internal agency, but they still use external agencies.

      Usually you can’t do that. But it’s Apple.

    • DanielSw

      Were you skeptical of the iPhone, too?

      Too much conventional wisdom is based on data from the past. The iPhone was pooh-poohed majorly for its lack of a physical keyboard, for example.

      So what’s to say that the conventional agency model is so essential? Could be that few, if any, companies have the resources to invest in such an activity themselves. But Apple certainly does.

      And what’s to say that Apple’s agency would be a carbon copy of past in-house attempts–or a carbon copy of ANY agency so far?

      Knowledge is NOT data, it’s certainty and observation. I’m thinking that these 1,000 Apple employees will be given a uniquely original charter to literally “think different” and be given an opportunity to get “marketing” and “advertising” RIGHT in a new and distinctly Apple way.

      • Moeskido

        As much of a fan as I am, I try to be skeptical about anything until it has proven itself worthwhile.

        Apple makes great products, which I almost always prefer to those made by any other company. But the culture that creates those products is also the culture that hasn’t always been especially good at communicating with the public about those products.

        Apple partners with companies that possess expertise it lacks. Sometimes Apple acquires such expertise, because it wants control over something vital like mobile processor design. Sometimes Apple leaves specialized work to someone else, because it prefers to stay focused on the things it does best. Advertising is a peculiar skill in this regard. “Certainty and observation” are good things to know, but they’re not enough.

        You’re saying “I believe they’ll be excellent at this.” I’m saying “We’ll see.”

        • DanielSw

          What I’m saying is that Apple BECAME an excellent telephone manufacturer, when it had no prior experience. I believe that, in a somewhat analogous way, that it can build an eminently competent advertising department by both acquiring talent, and by honing that talent into Apple team players. Just because it may be “in-house” doesn’t mean that it will have myopia. What’s to keep if from opening a Madison Avenue office, for example, if that’s still relevant at all?

          • Moeskido

            It’s certainly an acquirable and learnable skill. I simply have doubts that Apple’s culture can apply it as effectively as a group outside of that culture has done in the past. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

            Cook is certainly making interesting changes to the company’s public face. Perhaps the new glasnost will be sufficient for Apple to better understand how to reach consumers with its message. Perhaps.

          • JohnDoey

            Please stop implying that ad agencies have culture. It’s fundamentally untrue. I know ad people. I’ve been to the parties. Their entire culture is ad agency culture. At the very least, Apple’s internal ad department can express Apple culture instead of ad agency culture.

          • Moeskido

            I’ve worked at a few agencies, too. I’m using “culture” merely in the sense that each company has its own mindset and way of doing things.

          • James Hughes

            Actually John, Moeskido never referred to the advertising agencies “culture” only Apple’s. With that said, I can see his point. Sometimes companies can get a little too caught up in their own product to see it from a different and sometimes better angle. Apple has already created some great in-house ads though.

    • I don’t think they’ll be blinded by a cultural bubble.

      but, the main advantage of an external agency? you can fire them and instantly get another group with a completely different team, style, etc.

    • I agree. Apple’s collaborations have worked well in the past. I don’t for a second believe Apple is dogfooding aspects of it’s business, as we know from the trials that they actually watch the competition and public perception very closely. But I can’t see how an internal marketing arm would lead to anything but a Microsoft-like disconnect with the outside world.

      • JohnDoey

        Microsoft actually has more partners than Apple — HP, Lenovo, etc. Microsoft’s bubble is not the result of them doing everything internally. Microsoft is up in Washington state in their own world. Apple is in the heart of Silicon Valley, and operates within the traditions and culture of Silicon Valley, and they also have strong ties to the music and movie businesses.

        Apple has had their own internal marketing for years. Phil Schiller is SVP Marketing.

        Apple’s internal ad efforts come out of the fact that since Steve Jobs died, the media perpetuated the Apple-is-doomed meme again, in spite of every metric going up in Apple’s favor, and that meme was so strong that Apple’s own ad agency recommended to them that they do a 1996-style reboot in an effort to save the company. That is how disconnected the ad world had become from Apple’s actual reality. There are emails which have become public in court cases that show Phil Schiller correcting ad people that no, Apple stock has not in fact dropped since Steve Jobs died (it’s up like 200% or something) and no, Apple sales have not crashed (their biggest problem is how to make enough devices to meet demand) and no, Apple’s customer satisfaction has not dropped, and so on and so on.

        When you are the single most successful company of the 21st century and you go to your own ad agency and the people who work there tell you, “sorry things are going so badly for you, but don’t worry, we can help you reboot like we did in 1997” then of course you have to start your own internal ad department and staff it with people who actually have a clue what is going on with you.

        Also, I don’t think the making of the iPhone is the right analogy for the internal ad agency. Making a new consumer computer product category is Apple’s primary business. The right analogy for the internal ad agency is Apple Store. Your objections to the ad agency sound exactly like the objections to Apple Store in the early 2000’s. And Apple’s reason for doing the Apple Store was to “tell our own story.” Same as with the internal ad agency.

    • JohnDoey

      The problem with your point is that all of the ad agencies in the world exist in their own cultural bubble, and have absolutely no idea about the world outside of that cultural bubble.

      The people who work at ad agencies come out of schools that all use the same textbooks, and all they ever learned was how to work at an ad agency.

      I don’t know who Apple is hiring, but at least they will have non-ad people in charge of the whole thing.

      • Moeskido

        Even if that was absolutely true, an agency would still constitute an alternate perspective unavailable within Apple.

  • Terry Maraccini

    Apple is doomed without Steve. but, it’s not what you think. there’s a fellow named Steve blah Blah who has the only key to the executive washrooms.

  • JohnDoey

    They always had their own internal ad agency. The difference now is it is staffed by 1000 people instead of just being Steve Jobs.