FALLON POLISHING APPLE WITH TIE-IN COMMERCIAL:BMW'S AGENCY TAKES A SPIN AT CREATING SPOT FOR OSCAR SHOW

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One week after saying it was "open to suggestions" from agencies besides incumbent BBDO Worldwide, Apple Computer said it would run an ad created by Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, during the Academy Awards.

That leaves BBDO's future with Apple, already in question, looking even less secure.

Satjiv Chahil, Apple senior VP-corporate marketing, "is not excluding [the possibility] that we change our agency," said David Roman, Apple's new VP-corporate advertising and brand marketing.

He stressed there have been no decisions and no review.

The Fallon project proves the sense of urgency Mr. Chahil brings to the ailing marketer. He was impressed by Fallon-client BMW's Web site (http://bmwusa.com), created with Apple technology. On March 13, he met with Jim McDowell, VP-marketing at BMW of North America, suggesting a cooperative ad effort and bringing ideas from BBDO. Mr. McDowell was intrigued but wanted input from Fallon, which also developed the Web site.

Once Mr. Chahil decided to run the ad in Apple's 30-second Oscar slot, the only place to get it done quickly was at Fallon because of its cache of BMW footage.

The ad was done by March 18; it broke March 23 and will air tonight in key markets during the Oscars.

The commercial includes a line conceived by Mr. Chahil-"For Webmasters, Webcasters and Websurfers"-that Apple intends to use in all Internet-themed ads.

The Fallon spot is far removed from the subtle wit and brand-defining consistency of BBDO's Apple ads, which Mr. Roman said "don't necessarily generate the interest they used to generate."

BBDO's Los Angeles office did provided some creative input.

FALLON AS TURNAROUND ARTIST

Mr. Roman said Apple has no plans to assign Fallon more work. But the agency is famous for turning projects into relationships, the path it took to become agency on two Coca-Cola Co. brands.

However, Fallon is a finalist in Apple-rival Hewlett-Packard Co.'s printer review.

Mr. Roman said Apple will bring in more communications partners to work on projects. "Some of them we [will] do with BBDO and some of them we won't," he said.

Contributing: Mark Gleason and Pat Sloan

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