Apple Computer on Aug. 15 launches iMac with a public relations and ad blitz orchestrated by Steve Jobs, Apple's de facto creative director, media planner, marketing chief and master of spin.
Mr. Jobs, Apple's chairman and more or less permanent "interim" chief executive, wrote a key line in the consumer PC launch campaign--"I think, therefore iMac"--according to people familiar with his involvement. He also strongly influenced the media buy.
Total iMac spending wasn't clear last week, though one media executive speculated iMac could get a budget to match the $50 million annualized spending of the market leader, Compaq Computer Corp. "They're definitely loading the guns," the executive said.
`THINK DIFFERENT' MEDIA
Apple will use some of the key media bought for the "Think different" brand campaign to run iMac creative.
Mr. Jobs downplayed his ad role, assigning credit to TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif. "Creating great advertising, like creating great products, is a team effort," Mr. Jobs said. "I am lucky to work with the best talent in the industry--[Chief Creative Officer-Worldwide] Lee Clow, [Creative Director] Ken Segall and their teammates at Chiat/Day--and together we are creating what I hope will be successful and uplifting advertising."
The iMac media buy of magazine, TV and outdoor bears Mr. Jobs' signature, including a 12-page slick insert in a handful of key magazines including Newsweek and Time starting Aug. 17. The magazine buy also will include pages and spreads.
Ads will follow in other regions, with iMac launching Sept. 16 in Europe and then soon after in Asia.
NOT SINCE 1984
Apple bills iMac as its most important product since the first 1984 Macintosh; iMac promos show a screen that says, "hello (again)," playing off the original's "hello" on-screen greeting. But Mac introduced a new way of computing, while iMac is more a repackaging of existing technology. Still, iMac is Apple's shot at getting back into the mainstream.
Despite attention-getting ads and products that have appeared since Apple co-founder Mr. Jobs came back and rehired TBWA Chiat/Day last August, Apple's U.S. retail market share of 2% in June was below the dismal 3% seen in July 1997, according to ZD Market Intelligence. The venerable Apple brand now ranks ninth in sales, behind a brand, CTX, many consumers have never heard of.
Mac magazines are another barometer: Leader Macworld this year has cut its rate base 18% to 510,000, and year-to-date ad pages are down about 20%. MacWEEK halted publication Aug. 3; it will restart Aug. 24 as eMediaweekly, aimed at Mac, Windows and Unix creative professionals. But Mac titles are hopeful about a turnaround; Apple bought iMac space in Macworld, and Mac Home Journal Publisher Susan Ford said she has a verbal commitment. Macworld is offering discounts to new or returning Mac software developers.
"Generally, we're seeing a real stabilization in the marketplace," said Macworld President-CEO Colin Crawford.
STRONG INITIAL SALES
ZD analyst Matt Sargent said iMac will have strong initial sales from Mac devotees. Amid all the press coverage Mr. Jobs is sure to get, Mr. Sargent said, the trick for Apple will be to turn initial demand into momentum that could attract non-Mac users later in the year.
Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.