One of advertising's most heralded agency-client teams may be reunited. Steve Jobs, the ousted Apple Computer co-founder who recently assumed the role of acting chief executive at the troubled company, has approached TBWA Chiat/Day's Lee Clow about handling Apple advertising again, 13 years after they first made history.
Last week, as agencies pitching Apple's $80-90 million U.S. ad account awaited a cut, Jobs summoned client marketing executives to say that he would oversee the review and wanted to consider additional shops. Jobs then met TBWA chairman and chief creative Clow at Apple headquarters, sources said.
TBWA's Venice, Calif., office was invited to pitch the business before Jobs became involved. Agency executives were interested, but Clow had committed himself to new client Taco Bell, so the shop offered Apple the resources of its New York office. Apple reportedly insisted on Clow.
TBWA passed on the pitch, regretfully. "It wasn't that we didn't want to do it . . . that brand and Chiat are synonymous," said a source.
Clow declined comment and Jobs, with whom Clow has reportedly kept in touch through the years, did not return calls. Whether Jobs had offered to give the agency the account or invited it to pitch the business was not clear.
David Roman, Apple vice president, advertising and brand communications, insisted last week that TBWA would not be offered the business without a review. "What has happened is Steve specifically wants to be involved in the selection. We have to give more time to review agencies. We've just informed them we'll delay [selecting] the short list a bit."
Jobs hired Chiat/Day more than 15 years ago to work on Apple. Clow created Apple's "1984," still cited as one of the industry's most influential ads. In 1986, following Jobs' ouster, Apple chief John Sculley fired Chiat, not long after Clow reportedly called one of his ad ideas "tacky."
--with Hank Kim, Judy Warner