Apple Going Back to Its Core: TBWA C/D Considers ‘Think Different’ Ad Line

NEW YORK-Now that TBWA Chiat/Day and Apple Computer are reunited, the agency plans to reposition Apple back toward its core market of creative professionals and educators. The line “Think different” is being considered for the first campaign by TBWA Chiat/Day for the company since 1986.
“We’re going to refocus on what Apple is truly about,” said Lee Clow, agency chairman and chief creative officer, after winning the computer maker’s estimated $90 million U.S. ad account. Clow confirmed that the “Think” line is under consideration. “Apple will always be the tool of choice for idea people,” he said.
Apple co-founder and interim chairman Steve Jobs even flashed the words “Think different” on a slide during his presentation at the Macworld trade show in Boston last week.
Rather than pushing Apple as a mass-market brand, Clow said the agency is developing a campaign that will “celebrate creativity and individualism.” He said: “We will dedicate the brand to the creative thinkers; the people viewed as the crazy ones who end up changing the world.”
The work could include testimonials by celebrity endorsers such as Steven Spielberg, who could relate how Apple products fit into their lives, said sources. Clow noted, however, that the “first task is to convince people that Apple is alive and vital and crazy as it’s ever been.”
A successful U.S. campaign could also position TBWA Chiat/Day to pick up Apple’s ad business overseas. While Clow said all of the agency’s emphasis for now is on the U.S. business, “having an international network, we will aspire to work with them in other parts of the world.”
The agency’s account team on Apple will be headed initially by Clow and Laurie Coots, chief marketing officer of North America, who started her career as an account executive on the Apple business. “She loves the brand,” said Clow.
Another possible addition, said sources, could be Ken Segall of the former Chiat/Day, who now serves as executive creative director on the AT&T account at Young & Rubicam in New York. Segall declined to comment.
The increase in staff to service the $90 million account will accelerate TBWA Chiat/Day’s move into new and larger quarters. The agency is searching for new space to replace its well-known “binoculars” building in Venice, Calif.
The win brings full circle the agency’s rollercoaster history with the computer company, as well as the personal relationship between Clow and Jobs. “This is a personal thing for me and the agency,” said Clow. “It’s part of our history and one of the classic American brands.”
While the agency initially declined to participate when Apple placed the account in review in June, the re-emergence of Jobs at Apple and a meeting between Clow and Jobs at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters changed the course of the review.
Before Clow continued talks with Jobs, however, he consulted client Taco Bell. The agency had promised Taco Bell that the Venice office would not pitch any new business through 1997 after winning its $200 million account. With the fast-food chain’s new campaign on the air, Taco Bell executives gave the OK. “Taco Bell is being about as cool a client as it can be,” said Clow.
Apple’s decision to return to TBWA Chiat/Day surprised few in the industry. “Emotionally, I started working for Steve the day I went up to talk to him,” admitted Clow. -with Kathy Tyrer