Apple after Amelio

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The abrupt departure of Apple Computer Chairman-CEO Gil Amelio June 9 throws a wrench into Apple's $80 million to $90 million U.S. agency review.

The embattled chairman resigned June 9, exiting as Apple stock trades at its lowest point in more than a decade and Apple braces to announce another quarterly loss June 16. Mr. Amelio's key aide, Exec VP Ellen Hancock, also resigned.

Fred Anderson, exec VP-chief financial officer, will run Apple on an interim basis while the company searches for a CEO.

Mr. Anderson said Apple's management "is committed to continue to build on [the] foundation" laid by Mr. Amelio, including the consolidated marketing organization set up this spring. That consolidation led to Apple's move late last month to review its ad account, prompting the resignation of incumbent BBDO West, Los Angeles.

Mr. Amelio was not playing a direct role in the review and was not officially a member of the review committee, led by David Roman, VP-advertising and brand communications.

Mr. Amelio was not closely involved in advertising, and his departure conceivably could prove good news for an agency if Apple hires an ad-savvy CEO.

But renewed questions about Apple's direction and even its future as an independent company make the review more challenging both for Apple and agencies.

Several key agencies have declined review invitations from Apple. And several that are pursuing the account voiced caution even before Mr. Amelio's exit.

Apple said co-founder and adviser Steve Jobs will take "an expanded role as a key adviser to Apple's board and executive management team." The search will be led by Vice Chairman A.C. Markkula Jr., who has orchestrated many of Apple's management moves for two decades; board member and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. Chairman Edgar S. Woolard Jr.; and Messrs. Anderson and Jobs.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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