Woolward & Partners, S.F.
1. I'd demonstrate the superiority of the operating system. The biggest mystery about Apple advertising is why it took so long to fire everybody and anybody involved with congratulating Microsoft for achieving what the Mac OS had become years before-in effect acknowledging that Apple had lost its competitive advantage. In fact, the Mac OS is still superior in terms of its intuitiveness (as I've heard Bill Gates personally acknowledge recently), but for years there have been more cogent competitive facts about the OS on Apple's Web site than in its advertising. If Apple cannot clearly enunciate "why us" right now, they will soon be out of business as an independent company.
2. I'd reignite emotional values in the brand. There's still strong market sentiment behind an Apple comeback, especially in Japan and Europe, but it's not sufficient in the U.S. to stop the rot. Given what both Apple and Microsoft have allowed their agencies to produce in recent years, even mediocre creative talent could lift the advertising in the category to a new emotional level and mobilize an Apple resurgence.
3. I would control the influence of the board. Judging from direct personal experience with some members of Apple's new ego-laden board, I know they'll be quick to walk all over the creative-especially given the absence of a CEO and the lack of consumer goods experience on the part of the VP-marketing. Guys like Oracle's Larry Ellison rarely have the time to come to grips with the strategies behind the work, so they come in at the last minute shooting from the "hip du jour." They also don't entertain much debate from advertising people, so perfectly good campaigns rarely have the benefit of a good defense.
Executive Creative Director
J. Walter Thompson/New York
Don't get caught in promotional pissing matches. Go back to your equity: good McDonald's hamburgers, fries and a Coke, in what is arguably the cleanest, best run and most consistent operation in the fast food industry.
Paige St. John
Saatchi & Saatchi/New York
I grew up on McDonald's and McDonald's storytelling, and whether those stories tugged on my heart, made me laugh or made me smile, they made me feel. Commercials like the old one featuring the elderly gentleman just starting to work at McDonald's; the spot about Mike, the McDonald's employee with Down's syndrome; and the spot about the little kid who didn't make the Olympics finals but is loved by his hometown just for trying, are the commercials that made me not just like what McDonald's was but want to be part of it. These spots not only showed me that I liked the people who worked at McDonald's but that I'd fit in with the people who went there, too. These commercials showed me the way McDonald's saw itself, and what it was proud to be. The commercials fit the product.
McDonald's seems to be stuck where Burger King was a while ago. They tried to be all things to all people, and ended up standing for nothing. I watch McDonald's advertising now and I don't know who they are anymore. I don't want "My McDonald's" and I certainly don't want someone else's McDonald's. I want McDonald's McDonald's. And the great thing is that quality, although it's gone from the advertising, still comes through loud and clear in everything else McDonald's does. Somewhere along the way, McDonald's seems to have lost the soul that was always the backbone of its advertising. And that's a wonderful problem to have as a creative person. You get to give a company back a piece of what has always made it so wonderful. It's the rare case where you don't have to worry if the product will live up to the advertising. Instead you have to worry about creating advertising that lives up to the product, and everything it stands for.
Apple is dead. Long live Apple. With a vague notion of what Apple stands for among nonusers, fading confidence among loyal ones and a terrible relationship with the trade, Apple has got to do something big. We see Apple staging its own public death, thereby edifying its past self as a current hero, and clearing the path for resurrection. The new Apple would speak to a broader audience of users with an aggressive, consistent message that focuses on what users need now, as opposed to Apple's self-centered messages of the past.
Ogilvy & Mather/New York
Apple needs its soul back. Passion, wit, style, relevance-these are elements of the Apple DNA that were purged as soon as John Sculley walked out the door. Apple needs to be talked about, argued about, defended and championed. Apple needs to lead (no more whining about Microsoft). Apple needs to teach (the Mac is still fabulous-better than ever). Apple is special. It needs to act like it (remember when the signatures of the original Mac design team were inscribed inside the original Macintosh case?). Apple should stop chasing corporate customers who were never interested in the Mac and get back on the radar screens of the people who made it the $11 billion company it was-kids, college students, entrepreneurs, creative people; people with too much to do, too little time to