Apple Shifts Global Marketing Strategy, Restructures Its Relationship With TBWA\Media Arts Lab

Focusing on digital and regional campaigns

Apple, the world’s most valuable company, is streamlining its global marketing efforts.

The tech giant has restructured its relationship with its ad agency, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, to focus more on creating digital and regional campaigns—and less on translating, or “localizing,” big brand campaigns for global markets.

“TBWA\Media Arts Lab is reorganizing and introducing a new operating model to keep pace with the way people consume media and content,” an agency spokesperson told Adweek. “This will result in a reduction in areas such as localization and further investment in areas such as digital, social, data analytics, content creation and a more diverse set of strategic skills. We will also have greater integration with media partners at OMD.”

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the changes. Tor Myhren, who left Grey Worldwide to become vp of marketing communications at Apple in December 2015, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Apple’s efforts to cut its marketing spend have led to staff reductions at TBWA\Media Arts Lab’s Los Angeles headquarters and other offices around the world. The number of layoffs is unclear at this time.

In recent years, the client has moved some of its splashy, TV-focused brand work from the Omnicom network to its own in-house marketing team. While Media Arts Lab will continue to play a role in producing those big-picture campaigns, the agency’s teams from London to Tokyo have been instructed to devote more resources to local market work moving forward.

One recent example is “Meu Bloco na Rua,” a Carnival-themed effort launched this week to promote the iPhone 7 Plus in Brazil. São Paulo’s Lew’Lara\TBWA handled creative on that project.

Because Apple now wants to expend more capital on creating work targeted to regional audiences rather than translating broader campaigns for consumers around the world, the Media Arts Lab network’s translation and transcreation teams were among those most affected by this week’s downsizing.

According to several parties close to the matter, the shop made cuts in departments like traditional creative while expanding others, most prominently digital and social media. A quick glance at Apple’s YouTube page reveals the company has begun producing more 15-second ads designed to run on platforms like Facebook and Instagram rather than broadcast television.

In an additional shift, Media Arts Lab\FOR GOOD, the purpose-driven division of the network founded by TBWA Worldwide chairman Lee Clow, has relocated to the offices of TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles.

Media Arts Lab has gone through a series of executive changes over the past year, most recently naming former TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. chief creative officer Brent Anderson last October as its first new creative leader in 16 years.