Apple last week told BBDO Worldwide, Los Angeles, that it would review its estimated $80 million to $90 million U.S. account, prompting BBDO to resign rather than fight.
But BBDO officially only resigned the U.S. account, and Apple said the review "does not currently affect" non-U.S. relation- ships.
BBDO THINKS OTHERWISE
Yet BBDO Chairman-CEO Allen Rosenshine told Advertising Age: "In effect, we have told them we are resigning Apple" globally although "we didn't make a point of" telling Apple that specifically.
"The U.S. represents the vast majority of the account," Mr. Rosenshine explained. "Therefore, I cannot refuse to participate in the U.S. and expect I would keep international. Nor can I keep international and feel free to work for another computer company."
A high-level BBDO insider privately acknowledged BBDO will be challenged in servicing Apple globally since much of the creative originated at BBDO West.
BBDO West Exec VP-General Manager Tom Hollerbach said Apple relationships continue in about 20 BBDO international offices.
APPROACHING A SHORT-LIST
Apple said it's approaching a closed short-list of agencies nationally that have no software or computer account conflicts. Apple is working with Jack McBride, a Modesto, Calif., marketing and communications management consultant.
David Roman, Apple VP-advertising and brand communications, said he expects to select an agency by the end of its fiscal year, in September.
His key criteria: "Very high creative standards"; no conflicts; at least $150 million in billings; expertise in both traditional and new media; and ability to juggle product and brand ads.
Disputing talk that Apple management was making BBDO a scapegoat for Apple's business woes, Mr. Roman said Apple began the review only after charting a new marketing direction (AA, March 24).
In that change, Apple is stepping up communication to existing Macintosh users, seen as both good sales prospects and evangelists for the company.
WHO'S A CONTENDER?
Agencies contacted or believed to have been contacted include Bates USA, New York; Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis; Foote, Cone & Belding, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Hal Riney & Partners and Young & Rubicam, all San Francisco; TBWA Chiat/
Day, New York; and Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.
FCB, former agency for National Semiconductor Corp. when Apple Chairman-CEO Gil Amelio ran the company, handles NCR Corp. McCann may have a conflict in that sister agency Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco, works for Microsoft Corp.
JWT recently lost Sun Microsystems and was a Gateway 2000 finalist. Riney, home to several former key BBDO/Apple creatives, recently parted with PC maker Acer America.
TBWA Chiat/Day, which lost Apple to BBDO in 1986, was a Sun and Gateway finalist. Fallon developed an Apple commercial on a project basis last year.
Bates in June lost Compaq Computer Corp.'s European account.
OTHER POSSIBLE CONTENDERS
Other possible contenders include Leo Burnett USA, Chicago; CKS Partners, Cupertino, Calif., which works on interactive projects for Apple; Deutsch, Santa Monica, Calif., and New York; Grey Advertising, New York; J. Walter Thompson USA, San Francisco; Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston; and GSD&M, Austin, Texas.
For various reasons, the winner faces long odds to build anything like BBDO's decade-plus relationship.
Mr. Roman said Apple intends to do more frequent evaluations of communications partners as part of the management discipline of Mr. Amelio to review business relationships.
Apple and BBDO have worked together abroad since the early '80s and in the U.S. since 1986, making this the oldest relationship between a major tech company and agency.
But the separation, first reported June 25 on Advertising Age's Web site (adage.com), marks the end of a relationship that grew increasingly tense amid continual changes in Apple's management and strategies.
"It could have happened at any time," said Steve Hayden, president of IBM-brand services at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, and former chairman of BBDO West. But "getting fired by Apple is like losing your seat on the Hindenburg."
ADS 'DRIPPING WITH LOVE'
David Lubars, CEO-chief creative officer at BBDO West, said recent Apple creative "was dripping with love for the brand and the products and the vision that the company was founded on, the idea that ordinary people could do extraordinary things. On the other hand, I'm not sure that's the vision at the company now."
Though Apple centralized global marketing under Exec VP-Marketing Guerrino De Luca in February, the company is letting countries pick their agencies and ad strategies.
Mr. Roman said he expects BBDO's international offices to negotiate contracts with Apple's regional units.
BBDO's global contract ends Sept. 30.
Mr. Roman said the issue of an agency's international network will not be a high priority in the U.S. review.