Apple’s New Approach to Advertising Includes 1,000 In-House Creatives

Apple ad campaign

Apple has started producing its own TV ads in-house, Bloomberg reported earlier this month, since it wasn’t satisfied with its longtime partner TBWA/Media Arts Lab’s work. Today, Ad Age gives us an in-depth look at Apple’s new approach to advertising and marketing.

Recounted by a creative who has worked on the brand recently, it’s a scene that would have been unfathomable before the death of Apple’s creative heart and soul, Steve Jobs, roughly two-and-a-half years ago. But today Apple is thinking differently about its approach to advertising and marketing. Very differently.

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 — the size of Grey Advertising. It’s pitting TBWA/MAL against this internal agency with “jump balls” to mine the best creative ideas, a controversial tactic with outside agencies, let alone an internal one. It’s going after some of adland’s boldest-faced names to staff its in-house shop — in some cases, it’s even poached executives from TBWA/MAL. And, in what once would have been seen as a sacrilegious breach of the Apple-MAL bond, it’s been inviting some of the ad industry’s top shops to pitch on major projects.

But tapping creative minds wasn’t as easy as some may have thought. Ad Age cites one top agency executive who believes that Apple has lost its position as the creative standard, which also triggers a “frosty reception” from creative minds. The cited executive, for example, would rather join Coke or Pepsi’s creative team than Apple’s.

As uncovered during the Apple vs. Samsung patent trial, Phil Schiller wasn’t satisfied with Apple’s partner’s work regarding the iPhone ads. You may recall that Samsung ads scored better rankings than Apple’s among the viewers in a Bloomberg survey.

Fact is, Apple has been busy lately hiring creative talent, and we don’t have to look too far. Last fall, Ad Age reported that the company was doubling its in-house creative talent. Since then, it has been shopping for agencies. Now, according to Ad Age’s sources, Apple’s in-house team counts 1,000 people, and as the Bloomberg article has already highlighted, there is competition: Apple’s contracted agency now competes against the in-house team for the best creative idea.

The lengthy Ad Age story is worth reading, because it gives interesting details of Apple’s relationship with TBWA and other tidbits. In the end, Apple’s moves show that the company is ready to do everything possible to regain the cool factor on all fronts.

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