Apple’s advertising dilemma aired at $2 billion trial

“As Apple Inc. was being targeted by an onslaught of negative advertising from arch-rival Samsung Electronics Co, the iPhone maker considered abandoning its longtime ad agency to fight back, according to evidence presented at a $2 billion patent trial,” Joel Rosenblatt and Adam Satariano report for Bloomberg.

“Apple executives last year weighed dropping the firm that has exclusively handled its advertising for 17 years to better respond to a blitz by Samsung criticizing the iPhone,” Rosenblatt and Satariano report. “The evidence introduced in federal court in San Jose, California, is part of Samsung’s attempt to demonstrate that its products and marketing, and not the alleged infringement of Apple’s patents, drove sales of Galaxy smartphones and caused iPhone sales to decline.”

MacDailyNews Take: iPhone sales haven’t declined.

“With Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, on the stand for a second day, the jury was shown an e-mail exchange he had with James Vincent of TBWA/Chiat/Day’s Media Arts Labs unit, the ad agency that Schiller said worked closely with Apple cofounder Steve Jobs since the 1990s,” Rosenblatt and Satariano report. “Samsung’s campaign, including some ads that ran before last year, mocked loyal iPhone users for waiting in line to buy new models and Apple for touting features that were already available in other smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy. ‘We have a lot of work to do to turn this around,’ Schiller wrote to Vincent.”

Rosenblatt and Satariano report, “In a related exchange, Schiller wrote on Jan. 27, 2013, to Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, who took over after Jobs died in October 2011: ‘We may need to find a search for a new agency. I’ve tried hard to keep this from being the situation but we are not getting what we need from them and haven’t been for a while.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote in March 2013:

Steve Jobs held a three-hour meeting every Wednesday afternoon with his top agency, marketing and communications people to approve each new commercial, print ad, web ad, and billboard. Does Tim Cook? If he does, does he have anything close to Jobs’ sensibilities in this area? Judging from Apple’s marketing since Steve left the building, he does not. Therefore, Cook needs to find a marketing guru to take Steve’s place, conduct these Wednesday meetings, and hold his marketing peoples’ feet to the fire until he/she is extremely satisfied.

Related articles:
Samsung again mocks Apple customers in iPhone 5 queue via new Galaxy S III ad (with video) – September 19, 2012
Apple pulls ‘Genius’ ad series from its website, YouTube channel – August 22, 2012
Samsung runs print ad attacking Apple’s iPhone 5 in major U.S. newspapers – September 16, 2012
Samsung Super Bowl ad mocks Apple iPhone users – February 6, 2012


  1. Apple VP Phil Schiller’s internal email to Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed April 2014.

    MacDailyNews Take, March 2013.

    You know, because MDN “just don’t ‘get’ Apple.” 😉

    1. my c­­­­o-­­­­wor­­­­ker’s ha­­­­lf-si­­­­ster ma­­­­kes $8­­­­9 /hou­­­­r o­­­­n t­­­­he l­­­­aptop . Sh­­­­e ha­­­­s be­­­­en fire­­­­d fro­­­­m w­­­­ork f­­­­or five mo­­­­nths ­­­­b­­­­­­­­ut las­­­­t m­­­­onth h­­­­er c­­­­heck wa­­­­s $21­­­­382 ju­­­­st ­­­­wor­­­­ki­­­­ng o­­­­n th­­­­e la­­­­ptop fo­­­­r a f­­­­ew h­­­­ours.
      l­­­­ook a­­­­t th­­­­is s­­­­ite……..

  2. If I’m not mistaken, apple’s last phone launch since Samsung started running those ads netted apple a single weekend record of 9 million iPhones. Where’s the problem?

    1. The problem is perception.. Perception is everything and marketing influences perception.. And while iPhone sales are still stellar, Samsung’s marketing has without a doubt affected Apple’s perception (even Schiller admitted so,) and perhaps some sales.

  3. The real cause of Apple relinquishing sales of iPhone to Samsung is the direct result of their own tardiness in not bringing out a larger screen iPhone sooner thereby not being in a position to meet a large proportion of demand by the buying public.

    When you shoot yourself in the head with your own revolver, do you blame the antidepressants you were prescribed by the doctor or do you take responsibility for your own actions.

    It’s deplorable that Apple is blaming its own ad agency for causing a downswing in iPhone sales when this can be attributed to their own inaction and hesitancy.

    Apple is doing itself no favors by alienating a large part of its iOS user base by coming out with the deplorable iOS 7. If sales were to fall as a result, instead of falling on his sword, no doubt Cook will be blaming Android for the lookalike iOS 7.

      1. Other than the idea that Apple should have been faster to bring a larger-screen iPhone to market, there’s nothing else true in “troll hunter’s” post, and the only thing sad is the post itself.

        There has been no significant “downswing” in iPhone sales, iOS 7 is far from deplorable, is actually excellent, and most certainly isn’t “lookalike” in any way, shape, or form.

        “Troll hunter” is obviously a misnomer; “troll” is more like it.

      1. I own and operate a creative ad agency. The sort of bluster in Schiller’s email is merely steam venting. People don’t give much thought to posturing hyperbola in emails, but that is all Schiller’s email is: posturing. If anything, this is evidence this that Schiller doesn’t have the thick skin needed by someone in his position. Rather than suggesting that one of the premier creative ad agencies in the world should be replaced, he should provide positive direction and guide the communication strategy. Better yet he should accept the fact that Samsung advertising is for insecure wieners that have to get off on demeaning others rather empowering the soul of potential customers. Anyone who thinks Samsung’s sophomoric anti-Apple-user ads trump those from Apple are… what was the the word I used? Oh yes, insecure wieners. I am beginning to wonder if Phil Schiller is one of these. You know what Phil? Fuck Samsung and their ads. Who gives a shit if they want to make fun of Apple enthusiasts? That’s their insecurity. Don’t embrace it.

        1. With all due respect, I think that Phil Schiller’s decades of experience & successes at the WORLD’S MOST VALUABLE COMPANY trumps your little “creative ad agency” opinion. (BTW, isn’t that a little redundant? ‘Creative’ ad agency? What does just a plain ad agency do? Grow ads instead of creating them? Lol.)

          “Who gives a shit if they want to make fun of Apple enthusiasts?”

          Phil Schiller does. BECAUSE IT’S HIS JOB TO.

          Talk about irony. In your post you go on at length about “insecure wieners”, all the while painting yourself as having some serious Schiller weiner envy.

          1. … has worked at Apple as long as Schiller has? Does HIS experience trump “Spark’s”, as well?
            Thing of it is, those Samesong ads “hurt”, just a bit. They were well crafted and made some embarrassing points. Those fan-boys standing in line since the night before – at the Apple Store or the Midnight Madness Sale – are just a little … crazy? And Samesong managed to pick out a couple of features that their phone already kinda-sorta did and the iPhone was about to DO … ooops!
            Schiller thinks this sort of ad is easy to counter? Why didn’t HE suggest a way! There’s always going to be ONE feature, at least, they can “offer” before Apple introduces a better way to do something similar. That’s how leap-frog works. They can focus on that One Thing – and the bat-poo crazy line-standers – and make their point.
            Schiller wants to stop that? Ask the line-standers to take a number then wait in their cars instead of on the sidewalk.

          2. We both know that until his death, it was Steve Jobs who oversaw the advertising big picture and direction. Stiller’s reaction to the ads should have been, “Is that the best you’ve got? Poking fun at our customers?” I like Phil, but Apple’s advertising has benefited from taking the long view, focused on Apple products and users, and not being reactionary to their competitors. Changing agencies because some competitor got in a dig is insane.

  4. Some inspiring advertising would be nice especially if it doesn’t make the viewer wretch with embarrassment. Chiat Day used to be the coolest of cool advertising agencies, little sign of that these days sadly.

  5. Can’t blame Schiller for getting po’ed at a bunch of sarcastic lies. But ignoring inferior “want to be’s” turned out to be the best approach. The unfortunate side effect of the legal actions has been to put Samsung at the same level as Apple. The public doesn’t understand anything other than the two companies are fighting.

  6. “We may need to find a search for a new agency. I’ve tried hard to keep this from being the situation but we are not getting what we need from them and haven’t been for a while.”

    With this taken out of context it could be Shiller’s dissatisfaction with any aspect of TBWA/Chiat/Day’s performance. He might not have liked how they were handling the iMac roll out fiasco at the time. He might not have liked how they were handling the iPad 4 controversy (you may recall some people were complaining that the iPad 3 got replaced too quickly: “My three month old iPad 3 is obsolete!”). Or Shiller might have been dissatisfied with TBWA/Chiat/Day’s performance overall and not with regard to any one aspect of Apple’s advertising.

    If there were a direct, explicit tie in between that specific email as written by Shiller and Samsung’s advertising scheme Samsung’s lawyers would have quoted Shiller’s own words. Instead they imply that any dissatisfaction with TBWA/Chiat/Day’s performance is solely and specifically related to Samsung’s phone marketing scheme.

    Apple’s lawyers should tear this attempted link between the two to shreds. Will they? I doubt it.

  7. The ad agency hasn’t changed, what has is the decider and final editor, Steve Jobs. The company remains rudderless, just watch last years D13 with Tim Cook, he on defense and uncomfortable the entire time. Tim Cook is to blame for this malaise. The market including me wants larger screens, Apple now has the smallest screens on the market. The same position RIMM was in at the time of the IPhone launch in 2007. Also being behind and using the same playbook and launching it’s replacement a year later shows detachment or arrogance. Tim Cook needs to wake up now or move on.

Reader Feedback

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