IT'S FULL SPEED AHEAD ON APPLE REVIEW: MARKETING PLAN IS 'STRONG' DESPITE OUSTER OF CEO

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Apple Computer vows its $80 million to $90 million U.S. agency review will proceed unaffected by the sudden ousting of Chairman-CEO Gil Amelio.

"Amelio's demise doesn't really change anything" with the review, said David Roman, VP-advertising and brand communications. "From my point of view, it doesn't affect the time schedule by a single day."

Mr. Roman said he will complete visiting or reviewing materials from about a dozen agencies this week, narrowing to a short list after July 17 and then bringing that handful of agencies in on July 21 for a briefing.

NEW AGENCY BY SEPT. 1

Apple expects to pick a shop by Sept. 1 to replace BBDO West, Los Angeles, which resigned after Apple put the account in review.

Mr. Roman can't afford a delay; he wants the new agency's first effort to break in the fourth quarter for Apple's holiday sales push.

Apple's initial long list of agencies already has been winnowed as a few were cut or quit (see "Account Action" on Page 31). TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., for example, declined an invitation. CKS Partners, Cupertino, a longtime Apple project shop, also declined. CKS handles Fujitsu PC Corp. and is expected to win Silicon Graphics.

Apple pushed out Mr. Amelio after just 18 months amid rising losses, shrinking market share and continued questions about strategy and execution. The company expects to spend about three months searching outside for what it called "a customer-focused" CEO.

Before Mr. Amelio's exit, agencies were privately weighing the odds of taking on so troubled a client; Mr. Amelio's tenure has been uncertain for months. Hours after his exit announcement, a top executive with an agency in the pitch vowed to ask Apple hard questions before deciding whether to stay in the review.

MARKETING EFFORTS ON COURSE

Apple for the interim will be run by the remaining management team. Mr. Roman said marketing, under Exec VP Guerrino De Luca, will continue on course.

"In terms of having a plan for where the company is going, we have a much clearer plan than we've had for years," said Mr. Roman, who works under Mr. De Luca. "We don't think that's going to change. Personally, I think the marketing plan is much stronger than it ever has been . . . I don't anticipate there will be any significant shift" in marketing direction.

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