TBWA/Media Arts Lab cuts 50 jobs to adapt to client Apple's changing needs
TBWA/Media Arts Lab, Apple Inc.’s agency, has cut about 50 employees, according to people familiar with the matter. The firm said it was adjusting to the changing needs of its only client.
The staff reductions at Media Arts Lab were made Monday in several divisions, but many of the job cuts happened in the strategy division that helps Apple come up with ads for its latest products.
“Yesterday was a difficult day, as we had to part with some of our talented colleagues,” a Media Arts Lab spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “Our relationship with Apple has never been stronger, but as the needs of our client continue to evolve, we must adapt and continue to evolve the composition of our teams.”
Geoff Edwards, who started running Media Arts Lab’s marketing for Apple services earlier this year, is one of the people who have left. He helped launch the Apple TV+ video streaming service on Nov. 1.
"Apple’s confidence and trust in MAL as our singular ad agency is as strong as it’s ever been. As we continue to evolve our marketing approach, we’ve asked MAL to do the same," said Tor Myhren, VP of marketing and communications at Apple.
It was not immediately clear exactly how Apple's marketing approach might have changed, but the iPhone maker has been bolstering its own in-house advertising capabilities for years. Apple has recruited creative talent from the agency world, including Myhren, the former global creative chief at WPP's Grey, as well as Nick Law, the former chief creative officer of Publicis Groupe and president of Publicis Communications who was hired as Apple's VP for marcom integration.
Media Arts Lab, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, is part of global shop TBWA, which in turn is owned by Omnicom Group. The agency has served Apple for decades, including when the famous “1984” commercial for the Mac ran during the Super Bowl. It was also responsible for campaigns such as "Get a Mac," which compared Apple computers with PCs and the "Shot on iPhone" billboards and TV ads. More recently, the firm created ads for the latest iPhones and services such as Apple TV+.
Media Arts Lab works closely with Apple to develop messaging, ads and publicity strategies for its devices. Apple executives, including marketing chief Phil Schiller and co-founder Steve Jobs, were known to meet on a weekly basis with the firm in L.A. and at the iPhone maker’s Cupertino, California, headquarters.
Lee Clow, who worked closely with Jobs for years and ran Media Arts Lab for decades, retired earlier this year and moved into an advisory role as chairman emeritus at the agency.
—Bloomberg News with Ad Age staff
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