Apple execs speak out about BBDO divorce

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Apple Computer said it is reviewing its U.S. account, ending a celebrated but often tense relationship with BBDO Worldwide and putting the estimated $100 million-to-$150 million global account in play.

Following initial reports of the review yesterday on this Web site, Apple officials at a press conference today confirmed the review and also acknowledged that BBDO West, Los Angeles, its agency of 11 years, had resigned rather than participate.

The ailing marketer said it is reviewing only the U.S. portion of its assignment, but BBDO Chairman-CEO Allen Rosenshine said BBDO, which handles Apple in all major markets except Japan, effectively is ending its global relationship with Apple. The U.S. portion accounts for more than half Apple's spending.

"In effect," Mr. Rosenshine said in an interview, "we told them we are resigning Apple."

David Roman, Apple VP-advertising and brand communications, said Apple will work with search consultant Jack McBride to find a new U.S. agency by September. Apple will leave it to managers in other countries to decide their own direction on agency assignments. The moves mean the end of Apple's pioneering work to do global tech advertising through a single agency.

Mr. Roman said Apple is beginning to contact a short list of agencies that have "very high creative standards" and "resources...large enough to handle our business without changing their staffing dramatically." He said the winning agency will need to create distinct work to reach Apple's existing customers and separate, brand-oriented ads for mass media.

Apple, he said, would prefer one agency but might hire separate shops for the existing-customer and brand efforts and might hire a media buying service.

Mr. Roman praised BBDO's work and said Apple was surprised and disappointed the agency would not participate.

Mr. Rosenshine in a statement defended BBDO's award-winning work and noted BBDO had declined to pitch IBM Corp. in 1994 because of loyalty to Apple.

"For the past few years, we have stretched our people to their limits to be responsive to Apple's needs during continuing crises. We will certainly not compete for the opportunity to continue in this situation," he said.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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