APPLE READY TO RETURN ACCOUNT TO TBWACHIAT

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Apple Computer is expected this week to name TBWA Chiat/Day as its new agency following a truncated review that came down to it and Arnold Communications.

The anticipated move would reunite the company and agency that together created "1984," only to part two years later in 1986 when Apple fired Chiat/Day and hired BBDO Worldwide.

Apple had not formally picked TBWA as of press time Aug. 1, but people close to the review said the agency was in line for the account barring some unlikely last-minute glitch.

PIVOTAL SPEECH BY JOBS

An executive close to TBWA Chiat/Day said Apple likely would announce a decision Aug. 5. Apple's de facto leader, Steve Jobs, may be planning to discuss the role of advertising in his pivotal keynote speech at Macworld Expo in Boston Aug. 6.

"Jobs' keynote is going to be the keynote to see," said one Apple insider.

TBWA Chiat/Day's ascendancy became more sure after Mr. Jobs, Apple's co-founder and adviser, took a prominent but unofficial role overseeing the company after the July ouster of Chairman-CEO Gil Amelio.

The win would come just three weeks after Mr. Jobs brought in longtime friend Lee Clow, chairman-chief creative officer of TBWA Chiat/Day North America, to suggest ideas on how to rescue the troubled company.

TBWA Chiat/Day is expected to get the $80 million to $90 million U.S. account and it's possible the agency over time could end up with Apple's $50 million to $70 million international account.

TBWA declined comment.

Still, Apple watchers say a reunited Apple and TBWA Chiat/Day face a daunting task given the incredible fall Apple has taken in recent years.

"We may see why 1997 probably won't be like `1984,'*" said one former senior Apple executive.

BBDO RESIGNED ACCOUNT

Apple announced a U.S. review June 26, prompting BBDO, Los Angeles, to resign the business. TBWA initially declined an invitation to pitch, but it came in after Mr. Jobs took control of the review.

In addition to the Venice, Calif.-based agency, Apple winnowed its long list to Boston-based Arnold; Foote, Cone & Belding and Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco; Merkley Newman Harty, New York; and Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles.

Some major agencies declined to pitch Apple because of questions about its prospects and concerns that advertising was not its problem. At least two of the short-list agencies in recent weeks privately said they might withdraw as speculation grew that TBWA Chiat/Day was a shoo-in. FCB, in fact, withdrew July 31.

David Roman, VP-advertising and brand communications, had planned to narrow the list to three or four agencies, give an assignment and make a decision by Sept. 1. But Apple last week scrapped plans for the assignment, opting to get an agency on board posthaste.

ROMAN DENIES HE'LL LEAVE

Mr. Roman forcefully denied a rumor he will leave the company; Mr. Roman cut short a vacation last week and is known to have met with Mr. Jobs and ad staffers concerning the agency selection.

Mr. Jobs also is renewing a relationship with CKS Partners, Cupertino, Calif., which he worked with at Next Computer, the software venture sold to Apple in December.

CKS is a longtime Apple project shop that in recent months has been working on Web and collateral projects. With Mr. Jobs' return, CKS co-founder Tom Suiter is taking a more active role working with Apple.

Contributing: Mercedes M. Cardona, Alice Z. Cuneo, Laura Petrecca

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