When Steve Jobs looks at the numbers—Apple controls 5 percent of the computer market—he sees the future. "We're going after the 95 out of 100 people not using Macs," says Apple's CEO.
Plotting a strategy around product launches and Apple-store openings, Jobs planned to grow market share by convincing disgruntled PC users to switch to the friendlier Macintosh. The linchpin: advertising. Thirty-two spots were created for TV and the Web, featuring regular people who choose Mac magic over PC pain.
Honest and intelligent, visually striking and beautifully edited, Apple's "Switchers" is Adweek's Best Campaign of 2002.
"The idea for this didn't come from a roomful of creatives," says Lee Clow, chief creative at TBWA\Chiat\Day. "It was marketing people who answered the question, What's the next business opportunity? It had become obvious that people were switching. We wanted to help them take the next step."
"People were e-mailing us their stories," Jobs says. "We felt we'd done enough of the foundation work—software, computers, the digital hub—so we wanted to move [the switcher] idea along.
"Windows users are afraid to switch, even if they want to," he continues. "Having someone who's already done it, saying it's a little bit of a hassle, but absolutely worth it … It just made more sense for other Windows users to make the case rather than Apple."
A call went out for stories, and the response was overwhelming. Thousands of anecdotes were culled to about 100, and director Errol Morris came aboard, with his signature first-person interview style.
"The criteria was, do the switchers come across as sincere?" Clow says. "Steve did much of the deciding; he was the impartial jury. The ones who made it were the most believable."
Among the chosen: lawyer Theresa McPherson, vet Mark Gibson and the "star" of the campaign, student Ellen Feiss.
Why do the commercials work?
"The focus is honesty," Jobs says. "These ads tell the truth."