Apple loses key Hollywood liaison, e-commerce executive

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Two Apple executives, Suzanne Lindbergh, a marketing executive tasked with getting screen time for Apple products in movies and television shows for nearly 20 years, and R.J. Pittman, Cupertino's e-commerce chief, recently left Cupertino for new positions at other tech firms.

Apple's Hollywood ties weaken

Lindbergh, whose departure was tipped anonymously to AppleInsider, joined Apple's product marketing team in Germany in 1988, according to her LinkedIn profile. She then moved on to a developer relations role before being named "worldwide director of buzz marketing" in 1994, a role in which she was responsible for product placement in film and television.

Apple product placement
Apple product placement in Netflix's "House of Cards" | Source: Engadget


Apple profited handsomely from product placement during Lindbergh's tenure. Branding-focused website BrandChannel reported that Apple products were shown in over 30 percent of box office number one films from 2001 through 2011, putting Apple just behind first-place Ford and ahead of third-place Coca-Cola in the website's BrandCameo rankings. The Hollywood Reporter speculates that Apple's prominent placement could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

During testimony in landmark Apple v. Samsung trial, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller singled out Lindbergh's importance to the company's marketing strategy.

"We would love to see our products used by stars in movies [and] TV shows," he said, "and we have a person who helps provide products to people that want to do that."

The same source told AppleInsider that Lindbergh will join Jawbone, manufacturers of the Jambox wireless speaker, as the head of a new entertainment-focused division. AppleInsider reached out to Jawbone for confirmation, but the company has yet to respond.

E-commerce chief moves to eBay

Pittman oversaw technology, design, product management, and development for Apple's e-commerce platforms around the world under online store VP Jennifer Bailey. Apple poached Pittman from Google in 2010, a move that he called "sort of a homecoming" at the time, and his departure comes as Apple is shaking up their organizational chart with the hire of Burberry's Angela Ahrendts.



AllThingsD reported, however, that Pittman's move was unrelated Ahrendts's hiring. In an interview with the website, Pittman said "I loved what I was doing at Apple; it's a great company...but eBay is on a completely different level by an order of magnitude when it comes to e-commerce."

Pittman also led Apple's call centers and was responsible for Apple's Personal Pickup program, he says on his LinkedIn profile.

He will slide into a newly-created role as Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer for eBay's Marketplace division, reporting directly eBay President Devin Wenig. eBay says "Pittman will be responsible for leading eBay's product and development strategy for Marketplaces."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,312member
    Needed new blood. Phoning it in.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    Not related to Angela Ahrendts, my butt.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    red oakred oak Posts: 668member
    He was there 2 years. Not much of a commitment in my books, considering how he describe going to Apple as being something very special for him
  • Reply 4 of 24
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Two sci-fi product placements that did not happen or will not happen in the future:

    1. Pan Am Space Clipper docking with the space station in "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968).
    Pan American World Airways, aka Pan Am, ceased operations in 1991.

    2. Nokia car phone used by young James T. Kirk in "Star Trek" (2009).
    Nokia's future isn't looking very bright. Then again, that Corvette was almost 300 years old.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    I think her leaving is likely a good thing. It seems that virtually every show I see these days that are using Macs for props have the Apple logo covered up.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Why is it news that two people left Apple? Unless these employees are senior high up VPs or something, why should we care. People come and go from companies all the time.
  • Reply 7 of 24

    I was under the impression that Apple didn't pay Hollywood for product placement, which seems to be true. They do, however, staff positions to have product placed. 

  • Reply 8 of 24
    I'm not too sad about him leaving. I think an Apple.com update is long overdue…
  • Reply 9 of 24
    rnb2rnb2 Posts: 48member
    In addition to the Apple logo being covered up about 95% of the time these days, Microsoft is clearly making a major TV push - Windows 8 and Nokia Windows Phone have been very prominent on both "Parks and Recreation" and "The Mindy Project" this season. I believe Mindy Kaling sported an iPhone last season, but now EVERYBODY on the show has a Nokia.
  • Reply 10 of 24

    I could be wrong (and I am not sure where I heard that), but I thought that Apple never paid for product placements?

  • Reply 11 of 24

    That's Hollywood for ya!

  • Reply 12 of 24
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member

    This is actually good news I think--clears the decks in favor of the new Burberry woman, eliminating the artificial retail/ecommerce divide.

  • Reply 13 of 24
    maecvsmaecvs Posts: 129member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rnb2 View Post



    In addition to the Apple logo being covered up about 95% of the time these days, Microsoft is clearly making a major TV push - Windows 8 and Nokia Windows Phone have been very prominent on both "Parks and Recreation" and "The Mindy Project" this season. I believe Mindy Kaling sported an iPhone last season, but now EVERYBODY on the show has a Nokia.

    Not to mention Hawaii 5-0. In the first season everyone had iPhones. Now they have windows phones, as well as the Surface......

  • Reply 14 of 24
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maecvs View Post

     

    Not to mention Hawaii 5-0. In the first season everyone had iPhones. Now they have windows phones, as well as the Surface......


    My understanding (which could be completely wrong, but seems reasonable) is that Apple did plenty of in-kind donations (giving Macs and monitors for use on TV shows) but didn't pay for product placements.  Apple had good looking stuff, so production folks were happy to have attractive Apple products on screen.  Nowadays it is commonplace for companies to make combined product placement/advertising deals.  So products will be mentioned by name on a show and the next commercial break will be for that product.  Microsoft and other tech companies are playing that game and (for good or ill) Apple isn't.

  • Reply 15 of 24
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    Frankly I don't know that Apple needs an executive in charge of getting movies etc to use Apple products. They are hip enough they likely do that themselves. At which point legal takes over for the rights paperwork.

    So her departure is likely a meh

    Now if this had been the executive in charge of getting movies etc into the iTunes ecosystem, in charge of their release dates, pricing quality levels, Extras etc. THAT would be huge.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,453member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post



    I think her leaving is likely a good thing. It seems that virtually every show I see these days that are using Macs for props have the Apple logo covered up.

    Exactly.  Which means it wasn't a product placement that Apple got paid for.

     

    Years ago, the owner of the product got paid for supplying it to a film or TV production.    Today it's the opposite.   Someone discovered it could be a revenue stream and you have to pay to get your product into a movie or TV show.   Now there are people who do nothing but product placements.   

     

    But since the Macs in most TV shows do have the logo covered, they don't look like product placements to me.   Although maybe they are placements, but Apple pays less because the logo doesn't show.  

     

    Back the 90's, I got a call from a producer who wanted the products I was producing for the movie "Disclosure".    For some reason, they didn't want the product we were producing in the U.S., but wanted one that we produced in Europe.   I had to go to a lot of trouble to get them all the units they wanted quickly.    They never showed up in the movie.      Then I got a call from the producer of the movie "Seven".   They wanted to use our software product on-screen.     Saw the movie and they faked it instead.     (And they weren't paying us.)   We also published a (very heavy) legal directory that you see in movies often.   We created versions in which the center of the printed volumes are hollowed out so they wouldn't be so heavy.   Those did show up in films, but we would never have paid for the privilege.  

  • Reply 17 of 24
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    I think her leaving is likely a good thing. It seems that virtually every show I see these days that are using Macs for props have the Apple logo covered up.

    That's due to legality. Apple has the right to say when their logo can and can't be displayed and how much you have to pay. If the logo isn't showing the costs are often way less. So folks cover it up.

    Also some shows do it to avoid dating the show too much and other reasons.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    rnb2 wrote: »
    In addition to the Apple logo being covered up about 95% of the time these days, Microsoft is clearly making a major TV push - Windows 8 and Nokia Windows Phone have been very prominent on both "Parks and Recreation" and "The Mindy Project" this season. I believe Mindy Kaling sported an iPhone last season, but now EVERYBODY on the show has a Nokia.

    Keep in mind that Microsoft likely paid them to do it. Either directly (now that it's legal) or by shipping them a bunch of free units on the condition that no other companies stuff cave used, covered up or not. Happens a lot on movies, has for years, and now TV shows.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,749member
    malax wrote: »
    My understanding (which could be completely wrong, but seems reasonable) is that Apple did plenty of in-kind donations (giving Macs and monitors for use on TV shows) but didn't pay for product placements.  Apple had good looking stuff, so production folks were happy to have attractive Apple products on screen.  Nowadays it is commonplace for companies to make combined product placement/advertising deals.  So products will be mentioned by name on a show and the next commercial break will be for that product.  Microsoft and other tech companies are playing that game and (for good or ill) Apple isn't.

    Promotional consideration furnished by. . .
    http://www.imdb.com/company/co0014547/
  • Reply 20 of 24
    malax wrote: »
    My understanding (which could be completely wrong, but seems reasonable) is that Apple did plenty of in-kind donations (giving Macs and monitors for use on TV shows) but didn't pay for product placements.  Apple had good looking stuff, so production folks were happy to have attractive Apple products on screen.  

    Up until a few years ago that's how you had to do it. You donated stuff to the prop houses and the basic rule was if the logo etc wasn't showing they didn't have to pay for rights to use it. Many companies were happy to give them the rights for pennies so long as the company wasn't being portrayed poorly. So say if you wanted your crime lord to use a Mac to run his sex trade, nope. If you wanted someone to call their computer a total piece of garbage, nope. You wanted your computer expert to use a Mac for her security work AND to stop a band of international computer terrorists, heck yes.

    One reason iPads are so popular on sets is that you can create apps that can be used live and authentically. Allowing you to avoid issues of having to cover up that someone mistyped during that 'movie' playback of the fake UI or looking behind the times with a computer. Some places still put the tablet in a case or 'gelaskin' the back with a FBI logo but others don't care, they don't fit to cover it but they don't flash it either. They just use it without it being a big deal. Which to me is the better way to go. It's annoying when shows make product placement to obvious to me.
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