Last year, Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller ripped his ad agency, TBWA/Media Arts Lab, in a brutal email. We have the emails thanks to the Samsung-Apple lawsuit.
For years, Apple and its ad agency have been regarded as masters of marketing, smoothly turning out campaigns that are often cited in business school text books as examples of branding excellence. These emails show that journey was sometimes rocky.
In 2013, Schiller was unhappy that the Wall Street Journal wrote a story with the headline, “Has Apple Lost Its Cool To Samsung?”
He forwarded the story to Apple’s ad agency with one sentence that said, “We have a lot of work to do to turn this around”:
Apple’s ad agency wrote back with a giant memo that laid out its plan to fix everything. It went a bit overboard though. It compared Apple in 2013 to Apple in 1997. In 1997, Apple was on the edge of collapse. In 2013, not so much:
Schiller was not happy with this response:
The ad agency tried to apologise to Schiller:
Later emails show the tension continued between the two groups. Schiller said Samsung’s advertising was on fire, while Apple’s was weak:
The ad agency tried to smooth things over, but you can see Apple’s board was talking about Apple’s advertising and how it was not good enough: