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Phil Schiller’s Scathing Email to Apple’s Ad Firm Published

by Todd Haselton | April 8, 2014April 8, 2014 7:30 am PDT

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The trial between Apple and Samsung is continuing this week and, with it, comes new behind-the-scenes information from both companies. Most recently, a scathing 2013 email from Apple SVP Phil Schiller to the company’s advertising agency,  TBWA/Media Arts Lab, surfaced and boy would we hate to be on the receiving end of it.

The argument culminated with an email from Schiller to the agency addressing a headline titled “Has Apple Lost Its Cool to Samsung?” that was originally published by The Wall Street Journal.  The TBWA/Media Arts Lab team responded with a number of ideas, but also said that the marketing-communications (marcom) meetings were preventing them from freely discussing new visions for advertising. It also touched on noting that Apple is “pretty close to 1997 in terms of the need for advertising to help pull Apple through this moment,” a statement that definitely struck a chord with Schiller, and that Apple needed to “experiment with ideas.”

Schiller bit back with a very critical email.

“To come back and suggest that Apple needs to think dramatically different about how we are running our company is a shocking response,” Schiller wrote. “Also, to suggest we need to give you more free reign to spend money to explore ideas that you have not even tried to bring up in Marcom is shocking. We meet every week to discuss whatever we need to, no limit has been placed on what we discuss or how we explore issues, including our coming down to your facility for entire day long meetings.”

Schiller corrected the ad agency and said that “this is not 1997,” and that “In 1997 Apple had no products to market… not the world’s most successful tech company making the world’s best products.” In additional emails, he made statements we’ve already covered, like how impressed he was with marketing efforts made by Samsung, particularly during the Super Bowl, and how Apple’s board was starting to wonder what was going wrong with the company’s ads.

Perhaps that’s why we’ve seen some changes in Apple’s marketing message, at least in the form of the company’s ‘Your Verse‘ ads, which show the use of its products in different scenarios around the world. Head over to the source to read Schiller’s emails.


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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...


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