LOS ANGELES-Steve Jobs, acting chief executive officer of Apple Computer, held final meetings last Thursday with the two ad agencies he has chosen to vie for the company's $80-90 million U.S. account: TBWA Chiat/Day of Venice, Calif., and Arnold Communications of Boston. Jobs is expected to decide swiftly.
Agencies were awaiting word last Friday at press time. Jobs will most likely announce his selection this week at the MacWorld Expo in Boston, sources said.
David Roman, Apple's vice president of advertising and brand communications, would not confirm the two finalists but admitted the process has changed from the original plan.
"We are trying to do this quickly," he said. "It isn't the process we started out with exactly, where we said we'd go to a short list. We decided we had to get an agency on board really quickly, so we've cut that process."
It has become clear that Jobs' decision to limit talks to TBWA Chiat/Day and Arnold left hanging four shops initially invited by Roman to pitch the business: Dailey & Associates in Los Angeles; Foote, Cone & Belding and Hal Riney & Partners in San Francisco; and Merkley Newman Harty in New York. FCB sent a letter to Apple last week indicating it would withdraw from the review, sources said.
TBWA Chiat/Day, which would be handling the account for the second time should it win, was not required to make a presentation. Instead,agency executives talked with Jobs Thursday, sources said.
Jobs, Apple's co-founder, personally called TBWA Chiat/Day about pitching the account. He only included Arnold after Roman convinced him to watch an Arnold video based on the idea, "If God had a computer, what would it be?"
Jobs and TBWA Chiat/Day executives did not return calls. Arnold executives could not be reached for comment. -with Michael McCarthy and Angela Dawson