More bad news for Apple’s ad agency, TBWA Media Arts Lab. It is not currently making ads for the iPad and Apple is shifting more TV ads in-house to a team inside Apple, according to Bloomberg.
The move is not a surprise. Apple considered firing TBWA back in 2013, after all. But at the same time, it is surprising. This is the ad agency that Apple founder Steve Jobs demanded TBWA create. TBWA and Apple have been together on and off for three decades. It is the agency that created Apple’s most famous, iconic ads, such as “1984” and “Think Different.” It is the agency that launched the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone.
Many TBWA execs have had years-long, close personal friendships with top Apple executives. The most famous of those was between TBWA’s top creative exec, the now semi-retired Lee Clow and Jobs himself.
In Bloomberg’s telling, all that is falling apart:
An Apple team made the iPad Air ad last year that highlighted the device’s thinness, as well as a spot this year with Robin Williams quoting from the film “Dead Poets Society” and other ads airing now, said Amy Bessette, a spokeswoman for Apple. The internal team includes at least two people Apple hired away from Media Arts Lab, a TBWA unit that only serves the iPhone maker, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The split comes after tension arose between TBWA Media Arts Lab CEO James Vincent and Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller. In a brutal series of emails, Vincent tried to tell Schiller that Apple had a problem with its brand, from lack of innovative new products to the ethics of using cheap labour in China to build its phones. Schiller told Vincent he was on completely the wrong track. “Actually, I am quite shocked at this response,” he wrote at the beginning of a long rant about why Vincent was wrong.
I watched the Samsung pre-superbowl ad that launched today. It’s pretty good and I can’t help but think “these guys are feeling it” (like an athlete who can’t miss because they are in the zone) while we struggle to nail a competing brief on iPhone. That’s sad because we have much better products.
That’s why you’ve seen a marked change in direction in Apple’s advertising. It used to be purely product-focused: A shot of an iPhone on a white background with a finger jabbing at its various functions, along with some jaunty music.
Now, Apple is launching manifestos about itself and its role in the wider world. Its ads show ordinary (but highly attractive) people using their phones to enhance their lives. There is poetry. The ads have a dreamy feel. The message seems to be: These aren’t just products! They’re a way of life, a way of thinking!
There is one obvious problem: Companies hire ad agencies for a reason. They need original thinking from outside the company’s corporate bubble, where everyone knows they must please their immediate boss. Ad agencies often seek permission to tell their clients the uncomfortable truths about their brand’s failings so that they can be fixed. Plus, companies tend to be good at making products, not ads.
Apple is great at phones. Whether it is also a great ad agency remains to be seen.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.