Could the Apple-TBWA love affair, one of advertising’s most-storied matchups, survive without Jobs?

Apple Online Store“With Steve Jobs’ position at Apple in question, will the company — perhaps the most dynamic advertiser of the current age — continue to ‘Think Different?’ And will it do so with longtime agency partner TBWA?” Brian Steinberg wonders for Advertising Age.

“The ‘Think Different’ motto helped bring Apple back to popularity after a fallow period following Mr. Jobs’ forced departure from the tech concern in the mid-1980s,” Steinberg reports. “When Mr. Jobs returned in 1997, he immediately rehired TBWA/Chiat/Day, the agency that put Apple on the map with what has long been recognized as the best Super Bowl ad of all time: an eyebrow-raising 1984 riff on George Orwell that showed a female warrior shattering a TV screen broadcasting a ‘Big Brother’ type keeping viewers under tight control. In the process, the ad introduced the Macintosh computer to the masses.”

Steinberg reports, “At its core, Apple’s ad business has long been based on a marriage of top client executive and top creative. Mr. Jobs and Lee Clow, chairman and global director of TBWA’s Media Arts Lab and chief creative officer of the TBWA network, have been joined at the hip for years. Mulling the long-term stability of the alliance is, simply put, natural. Now, Mr. Jobs’ health is returning to the headlines. (Apple has tasked Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook with day-to-day running of the company while Mr. Jobs, who remains chief executive, attends to his well being.) And Mr. Clow is handling fewer day-to-day responsibilities.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. TBWA/Chiat/Day has had its high points and its low points. I think we’ll all agree that their campaigns for the iPod were nothing short of sheer brilliance, and directly contributed to Apple’s utter domination of the music player market. “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” and “There’s an app for that” similarly entered the nation’s group consciousness.

    But let’s not forget that they had very little success selling specific Mac models (with the huge exception of the original iMac). I remember the fury on this very site over the perceived incompetence of their campaign for the G5 PowerMac. Their most successful Mac campaign sold the Mac experience, and (with a few exceptions) stayed away from selling specific hardware.

    So they’re good at some things, and not so good at others. Whether they stick around will likely depend on how Apple’s business evolves.


  2. “most dynamic advertiser of the current age” Huh? The ONLY Apple ad I’ve ever seen on television was a decade or two ago when I was visiting the Philippines — a country that doesn’t even have electricity everywhere. I’ve lived in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Russia and I’ve visited many other countries including often, Thailand. I’ve never seen an Apple ad on television in any of those places. Maybe Apple advertises heavily in the US but elsewhere? Not nearly good enough!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.