Apple is plotting a sweeping "evaluation" of BBDO, giving marketer and agency a look at what's going right and wrong with the estimated $150 million account globally, regionally and by country.
The struggling computer company will also stage its first major movie promotion, tying into the upcoming "Mission: Impossible," a Paramount Pictures release starring Tom Cruise.
All kinds of promotions are likely to increase under Satjiv Chahil, who last week took the new post of VP-corporate marketing. Mr. Chahil, the top marketing executive at headquarters, most recently was VP-entertainment and new media and helped put Apple on the map in Japan with a tour sponsorship of Janet Jackson.
Last week, with Apple due to report a stunning financial loss for the normally profitable holiday quarter just past, a string of key marketing and communications executives resigned. Apple veteran Barbara Krause, VP-corporate communications, left just days after Apple put her back in charge of advertising. VP-Consumer Marketing Keith Fox resigned, as did Don Strickland and Jim Groff, VPs in charge of marketing to business and education. Linda Tsien, an Apple marketing manager and key contact for BBDO, also left.
"There is a definite `Abandon ship' feeling," said one executive close to Apple.
With Apple's future in flux (last week's speculation centered on computer giant Hewlett-Packard Co. buying part or all of Apple), Apple advertising is clearly in the midst of major changes.
Allen Olivo, director of corporate advertising, is working on the first of what's meant to be an annual evaluation to measure BBDO and advertising performance.
David Lubars, chairman of BBDO West in Los Angeles, said he welcomed the evaluation, saying full disclosure "fosters the healthiest relationships."
BBDO handles Apple in every major market except Japan, where Apple employs Hakuhodo.
Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this story.