Apple last week eliminated the job of veteran Dan Eilers, senior VP-worldwide marketing and customer solutions, and split the world into three independent regions-Americas, Europe and Japan/Asia.
Mr. Eilers' surprise exit may be connected to his ties to Joseph Graziano, who resigned last month as Apple chief financial officer after a showdown with President-CEO Michael Spindler.
The marketing shift came only a day after market research numbers from Dataquest showed Apple took back the No. 2 spot in third-quarter worldwide PC sales, with a 9% share. Even so, Apple is under the gun to improve share, fix supply problems and prove it can go it alone. The future of Apple and Mr. Spindler remain uncertain.
The new regional approach isn't surprising; it is the latest effort by Apple to concentrate on strengths. Apple last spring focused on key markets, such as education, home and niche business areas like publishing, giving up its losing attempt to be a general-business computer. Allen Olivo, director of worldwide advertising, also has been working to focus advertising, reducing the number of campaigns Apple runs and considering a cut in the number of magazines used. Apple's estimated worldwide fiscal '96 ad spending is flat at about $200 million.
With the reorganization, Apple will concentrate marketing and advertising on a handful of key countries where it is strong. The U.S. and Japan, for example, account for 80% of Apple's home PC sales and so should get the lion's share of consumer ad money.
But it's to be determined how the new strategy will be implemented, how responsibilities will be divided between regions and headquarters, and even if there will still be global campaigns.
"The strategic issue is focus," Mr. Olivo said. "The tactical issue is how do we work it out; that's what we're working on."
As Apple pursued a global strategy in the '90s, BBDO consolidated its position, gaining responsibility for advertising in every major market except Japan. But Mr. Olivo said BBDO is "pretty much in lock step" with Apple on the marketer's need to decentralize. Added David Lubars, chairman of home office BBDO West in Los Angeles: "Apple is going to focus on the places that they have great markets. We're there to support them.
"I just came out of a meeting with Michael Spindler," Mr. Lubars added. "Everything's going fine. This is what they need to do to make that company lean and mean."