One of the more famous quotes associated with the ad biz is the one Steve Jobs is reputed to have said to his ad agency early in the relationship…“I want insanely great advertising.”
The agency in question was Chiat Day, long since swallowed up by BDA (Big Dumb Agency) TBWA, which was in turn swallowed up by BDHC (Big Dumb Holding Company) Omnicom.
Another famous ad quote was that of Jay Chiat, Co-Founder of Chiat day, who once said… “I can’t wait to see how big we get before we turn to s**t!” Well, both guys eventually got their wish.
For years, Steve got advertising for Apple that was great, and then with 1984 for the launch of the Mac, it became insanely great.
At the same time, Jay was building an agency that was to become the envoy of the advertising business, doing consistently excellent work for a range of major clients as well as Apple.
Then in 2002, Jay died.
Unfortunately, since its acquisition by Omnicom, and merger with TBWA in 1995 the work had already started to suffer, as in common with all agencies belonging to holding companies which are invariably run by bean counters, the bottom line had become more important than the quality of the work.
However, that was with the exception of the Apple account, for which Chiat continued to turn out terrific work. Why? Simple, Steve was still signing off on the advertising. And anyone who’s ever worked with Steve will tell you that as an acknowledged control freak, he would kill anyone suggesting he rely on third party boiler plate research, focus groups, datametrics and all the other bulls**t agencies love to bombard clients with. Steve relied strictly on his gut. And Steve’s gut was invariably right.
Then in 2011, Steve died.
And Apple’s advertising is now an unmitigated disaster. The new TV campaign features an “Apple Genius” showing people on aeroplanes, on the street, and about to give birth, how to use their Macs. Firstly, they have achieved the impossible by creating a clone of the “Dell Dude,” only worse.
This guy sleeps in his Apple store tee shirt and name tag, and is the kind of weasel you want to punch in the face. At least the “Dell Dude” was weird in a funny way. Remember, he got arrested in the west Village for trying to score weed from an undercover cop… And, at the time (2 AM in the morning) he was wearing a kilt!
Somehow or other, I don’t think the “Apple Genius” could score itching powder in a joke store. Anyway, the really important point is that Apple has invested years and millions of dollars hammering home the proposition that Apple stuff is so intuitive, you just switch it on and instantly become Leonardo Da Vinci. The last thing you need is the “Apple Genius” looking over your shoulder.
Whoever is responsible for this should realise that Steve is sat on his iCloud watching them right now… And he doesn’t think this is insanely great!
The Moral: Without the original visionary in charge… Jay’s prophesy always comes true.
George Parker has spent more than 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which he describes as, “required reading for those looking for a piss & vinegar view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, “Confessions of a Mad Man,” makes the TV show “Mad Men” look like “Sesame Street.” Update: He just got named as one of the 22 Most Influential Ad Bloggers, in the known universe, by: Guess who?
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