Apple is looking for a few good creatives as it works to bring more of its advertising and marketing in-house.
Longtime observers say after years of capping the size and type of internal creative talent, the tech giant is significantly expanding its in-house design group. One executive familiar with the company said the group could grow to 500 or 600 staffers from about 300.
The move dovetails with a recent Association of National Advertisers study that found big marketers ratcheting up in-house advertising capabilities. Apple wasn't part of the study, which showed the penetration of in-house shops among its members shot up to 58% from 42% five years ago.
Ramping up capabilities represents a necessary shift in direction for Apple, which under the late Steve Jobs "was fairly strict about the headcount in that group," said the executive, who asked not to be named. "The group didn't grow proportionally to the company as it went through astronomical growth, and that was partly because Steve wanted Apple to be seen as a products company, not a marketing company."
As reported, Apple has begun hiring ad execs with creative experience to help brands and agencies create better ads for its iAd network. But it is now seeking talent to work on the brand itself and wants to bulk up its ranks of high-level creative directors and heads of innovation. As part of its recruiting efforts, Apple has approached senior creatives known for innovative work.
Apple works with a few outside agencies, including TBWA/Media Arts Lab, Mono in Minneapolis and San Francisco's Eleven. That's not expected to change. But the in-house group has been tackling more projects, doing everything from site design to tutorial videos for Apple products to maintaining a large internal commercial-production facility.
But working for Apple is not a dream job for everyone. There's the commute to headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. -- a healthy jaunt for creatives who want to remain in a big city like San Francisco. There's also the matter of working for a single client -- even one as innovative as Apple.
And in some ways working for Apple could be limiting for a creative, since there's often little room for innovating outside of product roles. Mr. Jobs was notorious for keeping a close watch over everything Apple -- including brand messaging. After his death, observers speculated about whether Apple advertising and marketing would suffer creatively without his oversight.
While it had some initial stumbles, such as a clunky Mac Genius campaign that launched during the Olympics, more recently Apple's ads have fallen back in line with Mr. Jobs' legacy. Last month, it released a cheeky movie trailer-inspired teaser for the new Mac Pro. The ANA's research suggested that the rise in marketers' investment in internal agency resources stems from a desire to cut costs associated with outsourcing. But Apple's motivation is likely different. Observers said Apple is driven not by a desire for more efficiency, but one to keep intellectual property within its walls and retain more ownership over its creative work.