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APPLE'S $15 MILLION HOLIDAY AD PUSH USES EDUCATIONAL APPEAL; INTEGRATED EFFORT FROM BBDO TOUTS PC MODELS AS TEACHING TOOLS FOR PARENTS

By Published on .

Apple Computer today begins its holiday TV ad push, one slice of a focused campaign in which Apple will seed part of the market for Macintosh and cede other portions to the competition.

The campaign may be the most integrated in Apple's history, with a similar theme in TV, radio and newspaper advertising and an infomercial.

The effort, estimated at $10 million to $15 million, will run into January, allowing Apple to go after post-Christmas shoppers.

Greg Olson, Apple Americas manager of advertising and direct marketing, said the budget is in line with Apple's recent holiday campaigns.

AMELIO'S MANDATE

The new effort reflects the mandate set by Chairman-CEO Gil Amelio, who joined the ailing marketer early this year, to focus on segments where it's strong.

"You have people at Apple reading off the same page now," said David Lubars, president-executive creative director at BBDO Worldwide's Los Angeles office, which handles Apple. "I think you see it's showing in the work."

The campaign uses the "Bring learning home" theme, playing off Apple's dominance in the edu-cation market.

"When it's your turn to be the teacher," says voice-over in a TV spot, "why not use the computer more teachers use?"

PROVIDING THE ANSWERS

In three 30-second spots, child-ren ask parents perplexing quest-ions, such as why in baseball a curve ball curves. Apple's pitch is that a Mac can easily provide the answers.

Radio and print ads promote a rebate offer while continuing the learn-at-home theme.

Apple is promoting four Mac Performas, half the line advertised a year ago.

And advertising will run in 10 cities that account for more than half of Apple sales: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Minn-eapolis, Seattle, Dallas and Detroit.

The 30-minute infomercial started running Nov. 11 in local markets and on national cable. Tyee Productions, Portland, Ore., produced and Hawthorne Communications, Fairfield, Iowa, placed the infomercial, a followup to a successful infomercial Tyee produced for Apple in 1994.

With its tighter focus, Apple by default is ceding some ground to the dominant makers of Windows/Intel PCs. Except for the infomercial, in-store efforts and a separate magazine campaign, many cities will see little promotion from Apple at a time when Intel Corp., Packard Bell NEC and others are pushing alternatives.

The campaign comes at a perilous time. While Apple returned to profitability for the quarter ended Sept. 27, sales plummeted. Apple's retail market share in September was 5.3% vs. 11.2% a year earlier, estimated Matt Sargent, an analyst at Computer Intelligence InfoCorp.

Mr. Olson said Apple's goal is to build share in key areas, such as home and education, "rather than be held hostage by an across-the-board market share."

Grace Hong, Apple Americas senior manager of consumer marketing, acknowledged some consumers are asking questions about Apple. "I wouldn't say that consumers are unaware of the challenges that we've had," she said, "but I do think that our recent announcements have changed their perceptions . . . There is a turnaround going on at Apple."

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