Apple's Schiller was 'shocked' at ad agency's suggestions for branding turnaround, documents show

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2014
Email correspondence made public as part of the second California Apple v. Samsung patent trial illustrates Apple marketing guru Phil Schiller's displeasure at the company's high-profile ad agency, which in 2013 was under the gun to churn out quality material in light of Samsung's own media blitz.

Schiller


The email string, first spotted by Business Insider, comes from a 2013 conversation between Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Schiller and longtime advertising partner TBWA/Media Arts Lab, a high-profile ad agency behind some of the best campaigns in recent memory.

In the first note, Schiller expressed concern about a Wall Street Journal story titled "Has Apple Lost Its Cool To Samsung?" and told TBWA, "We have a lot of work to do to turn this around."

The ad agency -- which apparently has an aversion to capital letters -- responded with a long, detailed list of bullet points outlining ideas, strategies and possible avenues Apple marketing could take to reverse the "chilling narrative on apple."

The first of "3 big areas" of discussion involved a company-wide response that looked to change company behavior, focus on the upcoming product roadmap, advertising and new approaches to sales. TBWA suggested an emergency meeting "similar to antenna-gate" that would convene top-ranking executives including CEO Tim Cook and design chief Jony Ive.


Email from TBWA/Media Arts Lab to Apple SVP Phil Schiller.


Second, as seen above, the ad agency compared the then-current situation to Apple's situation in 1997, when marketing played a large part in bringing the company back from the dead. To accomplish this, the firm tossed out the idea of experimenting with new marketing ideas that went beyond what was discussed at weekly marketing communications (marcom) meetings.

Finally, TBWA recommended the team hold a regular mini-marcom meeting to coordinate efforts.

Schiller did not appreciate the memo.



TBWA apologized for its "over-blown" reaction and suggested a more even-handed approach. Subsequent emails from Schiller showed the marketing chief was increasingly concerned with Samsung's marketing prowess.

"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 a zone) while we struggle to nail a compelling brief on iPhone. That's sad because we have much better products," Schiller wrote, ending the email, "Something drastic has to change. Fast."

The final correspondence revealed in court showed Apple's board of directors was also getting anxious over the company's lack of effective advertising. While there was definite tension between Schiller and TBWA/Media Arts Lab at the time, as reported in mid-2013, the firm continues to produce high-quality ads as Apple's go-to agency.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,183member

    Again... Why are these memos and supposedly private bits of information being leaked? Aren't all of these things restricted to the court and to lawyers, the judge and jurors? Most importantly, what has this to do with the trial at hand? It seems utterly extraneous to the defense of the patents.

  • Reply 2 of 77
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Again... Why are these memos and supposedly private bits of information being leaked? Aren't all of these things restricted to the court and to lawyers, the judge and jurors? Most importantly, what has this to do with the trial at hand? It seems utterly extraneous to the defense of the patents.

    I thought civil cases made everything public.
  • Reply 3 of 77
    This happened in Jan 2013?

    Interesting. It puts a decidedly defensive spin on the "can't innovate my ass" quip. It means the sensationalist "doomed" narratives from WSJ (and others) are working to destroy Apple, and putting Schiller on defense. Journalism my ass.
  • Reply 4 of 77
    focherfocher Posts: 640member
    Discovery is not public, but things introduced into evidence are pretty much always public except in limited circumstances. Those emails wouldn't fall into a trade secret category. Apple initiated the litigation, so they knew such materials would come out.
  • Reply 5 of 77
    dabedabe Posts: 99member
    This happened in Jan 2013?

    Interesting. It puts a decidedly defensive spin on the "can't innovate my ass" quip. It means the sensationalist "doomed" narratives from WSJ (and others) are working to destroy Apple, and putting Schiller on defense. Journalism my ass.

    To me, it looks like nothing more than a righteous and reasonable response to an ad agency propossl that was missing the ball.
  • Reply 6 of 77
    irelandireland Posts: 17,616member

    4-page graph-ridden DED article showing why Apple ads are better than Samsung ads with a timeline dating back to the stone age in 3, 2, 1.

  • Reply 7 of 77
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

     

    Again... Why are these memos and supposedly private bits of information being leaked? Aren't all of these things restricted to the court and to lawyers, the judge and jurors? Most importantly, what has this to do with the trial at hand? It seems utterly extraneous to the defense of the patents.


    I think they see Schiller as an easy mark in their attempt to discredit the entire company by association. The fact that the documents reveal Schiller's single focus is on trying to turn things around from a marketing perspective is because he feels the company doesn't have any faith in their own IP as being strong enough to protect them from the onslaught of Samsung products and marketing prowess, hence the patents are worthless. They are attempting to present a deductive fallacy, but perhaps they see Schiller as the Achilles heel in this case. I certainly don't see him as a guru of anything. Lately, the marketing has been pretty bad, in my opinion. But, yeah, it has nothing to do with the patents.

  • Reply 8 of 77
    irelandireland Posts: 17,616member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

     

    Again... Why are these memos and supposedly private bits of information being leaked? Aren't all of these things restricted to the court and to lawyers, the judge and jurors? Most importantly, what has this to do with the trial at hand? It seems utterly extraneous to the defense of the patents.


     

    I don't get it either. It is interesting, though. If anything, to me it shows how much people like Schiller care about Apple. Apple is still scrappy after all these years on top. I'm lovin' it, MacDonalds-style.

     

    Samsung's lawyers are trying to paint Apple in a corner crying for answers and not having a clue what to do. But... regardless of how this trial goes, ultimately 2014 itself will say more about how Apple's doin' than any court case will. I hope they update Apple TV to make all these other products look like toys.

     

    And as unpopular as it is around here, I hope they release an actual TV. The TV market is a confusing mess that needs someone like Apple to come in and make sense of it. Each player is making like 50 TVs and the longer you look into buying a TV the more confusing it gets. You can't get information, all you get is conflicting opinions. It's bad out there. And even the best TVs on the market are kind of ugly looking, and the backs of these supposedly sexy sets look like the facade of a fucking Borg star ship. With remote controls designed by morons and software the likes of which looks like is was created by the blind. This market is ripe for some real innovation. For someone like Apple to come along and carefully and methodically design the TV from the ground up in a cohesive, simple, well designed, integrated experience for modern times.

     

    YOU CAN'T BUY A TV WITH A DECENT SET OF SPEAKERS BUILT IN. IT'S A JOKE!!!!

     

    The best TV of the moment: The moron-named Panasonic TX-P60ZT65B has dual 5-watt speakers? WTF is going on? It's like living in bizarro world. My 8-year old Pioneer has dual 13-watt speakers. The 6-year old Kuro 9G had 18-watt ones. And watching a movie on a modern LED TV is like cutting your eyes with razor blades. The whole thing is upside-down.

  • Reply 9 of 77
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    And people still think this lawsuit is a good idea because by god Samsung needs to be shamed and punished. Who cares if confidential stuff like this gets published as long as Samsung is shamed. :rolleyes:
  • Reply 10 of 77
    irelandireland Posts: 17,616member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    And people still think this lawsuit is a good idea because by god Samsung needs to be shamed and punished. Who cares if confidential stuff like this gets published as long as Samsung is shamed. image

     

    If Samsung loses this time again none of this leaked stuff will matter, and they will look very bad. Like the way a new president's dirty laundry is forgotten once he wins. If...

  • Reply 11 of 77
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member
    Amazing how much people can spin thing when quotes are taken out of contexts. Sanity. Go Apple.
  • Reply 12 of 77
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    ireland wrote: »
    If Samsung loses this time again none of this leaked stuff will matter, and they will look very bad. Like the way a new president's dirty laundry is forgotten once he wins. If...
    IF Samsung loses, maybe.
  • Reply 13 of 77
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member
    Sounds like a fun idea to compare ads
  • Reply 14 of 77
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I can't believe someone from Apple's ad agency would compare 2013 Apple to 1997 Apple and do it to Phil Schiller. I hope to god this person isn't still working on the Apple account.
  • Reply 15 of 77
    zandroszandros Posts: 537member
    First, doesn't 'tossed out' mean the same as 'binned'? Super-confusing that the term has double contradictory meanings.

    Second, I am shocked—shocked!—that Phil Schiller would write "the iPhone" instead of just "iPhone".
  • Reply 16 of 77
    irelandireland Posts: 17,616member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zandros View Post



    Second, I am shocked—shocked!—that Phil Schiller would write "the iPhone" instead of just "iPhone".

     

    I hope for your sake you're being sarcastic.

  • Reply 17 of 77
    zandroszandros Posts: 537member
    ireland wrote: »
    I hope for your sake you're being sarcastic.

    Honestly, I'm not shocked, but I find it somewhat interesting that Apple's SVP of Marketing wouldn't have internalised Apple's linguistic idiosyncrasies (which I enjoy, by the way).

    Edit: Ah, didn't realise how my use of shocked mirrored Schiller's. That was dumb of me and wholly unintentional.
  • Reply 18 of 77
    dabedabe Posts: 99member
    rogifan wrote: »
    And people still think this lawsuit is a good idea...

    What alternatives do you think might be preferable?
  • Reply 19 of 77
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,223moderator
    rogifan wrote: »
    I can't believe someone from Apple's ad agency would compare 2013 Apple to 1997 Apple and do it to Phil Schiller. I hope to god this person isn't still working on the Apple account.

    The guy he spoke to was James Vincent, the company president at the time and he was in charge of the Apple account. TBWA's top staff are listed here:

    http://www.tbwa.com/leadership/

    Lee Clow there did the 1984 ad. The Media Arts Lab (MAL) appears to be a subsidiary that is kept more hidden from the public:

    http://www.standard.co.uk/business/markets/apples-own-ad-agency-and-other-secrets-of-a-stellar-brand-6451855.html

    This would help prevent competitors using the same agency or hiring staff away. It seems Phil was ready to ditch them:

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303847804579481883007501484

    "In an early 2013 email to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Mr. Schiller, the company's senior vice president of global marketing, wrote that Apple "may need to start a search for a new agency." He added, "we are not getting what we need from them and haven't been for a while.""

    The offending part of the email is shown in the link from the AI article:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/phil-schiller-emails-2014-4

    1000

    I can understand where the guy was coming from because it's a mindset a lot of people got into because of all the negative press - he was buying into media reports about Apple and then suggesting their company needs to behave differently instead of just doing the job he was hired to do.

    Look at how many people posted here on the forum about the Apple stock as if Apple was days away from closing the doors unless they quickly changed their business strategy despite still being one of the most profitable companies in the world.

    The trouble with external ad agencies is they don't follow what's actually going on in the company and what messages need to be sent out. They assess the outside perception like everyone else and just try to suggest ways to fix those perceived issues. The trouble with internal ad groups is they would be more likely to run out of ideas as they aren't working with multiple clients and experimenting with a variety of ideas and styles.

    There's also the problem of not giving out product info to marketing agencies too soon. Maybe their internal ad groups should be responsible for the ad themes so that they have a roadmap and then they can ask the external agencies to flesh out those themes rather than rely on them for everything. It would be like a script writer making a story arc and then having assistant writers fill out the details. They could then have multiple external agencies flesh out the themes and pick which one does the best job.
    mstone wrote:
    I think they see Schiller as an easy mark in their attempt to discredit the entire company by association. The fact that the documents reveal Schiller's single focus is on trying to turn things around from a marketing perspective is because he feels the company doesn't have any faith in their own IP as being strong enough to protect them from the onslaught of Samsung products and marketing prowess, hence the patents are worthless. They are attempting to present a deductive fallacy, but perhaps they see Schiller as the Achilles heel in this case.

    That's an interesting take on it. Phil is the SVP of marketing though so it's his job to keep Apple's brand perception under control so he was probably feeling a bit of pressure. Samsung could try to make it look like Apple was heavily dependent on their marketing but as Phil himself said, there was nothing wrong with the company in terms of operation, the problem was on the marketing side so I doubt it would have much effect.

    Some of these details ought to be kept confidential as some of them could strain relationships with companies Apple works with.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    gilly33gilly33 Posts: 254member
    I'm not well verse about any of this stuff regarding patent cases and marketing stuff. I suppose given all the alledged heat on Apple to innovate or else Phil might've been feeling some pressure. It is very competitive out there and everyone especially Sammy is gunning for Apple. But how does marketing fears or not fit into the whole patent infringement question? Honest question no sarcasm meant?
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