It's been reported that Apple are planning to hire up to 4 new digital ad agencies. This follows evidence presented in the latest Samsung-Apple lawsuit earlier this week, which revealed Apple's senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller's dissatisfaction with TBWA/Media Arts Lab, the brand's current agency. The leaked email exchange in question saw Schiller rage against the 'Next Best Thing' Samsung ad for their Galaxy S4 smartphone. He admits that, having seen the Samsung ad during the 2013 Superbowl had him worried that Samsung were in the zone, whilst Apple were “Struggling to nail a compelling brief on the iPhone.”
Just because Apple are looking at adding 4 more, that doesn't necessarily mean Media Arts Lab are on the chopping block
The four companies on the shortlist for addition to Apple's books include larger firms AKQA (owned by WPP) and Huge (owned by the Interpublic Group), as well as the smaller independent shops Area 17, and Kettle. It's important to note, however, that Apple are already working with numerous smaller digital agencies (such as Traction and Eleven), so just because they are looking at adding 4 more, that doesn't necessarily mean Media Arts Lab are on the chopping block (contrary to what the leaked documents would have us believe). The scope of the work to be assigned across the agencies is likely to be incredibly vast, and will include user experience and digital strategy, among other elements.
Apple has also been working on doubling the size of their own in-house creative design team, likely as a response to increased pressure from competitors. Indeed, it would appear Apple are really feeling the pressure, as it's been reported that they spent a whopping $351 million on advertising last year in the just the U.S. Samsung (by comparison) spent $363 million, but in past years Samsung has dramatically outspent Apple on advertising. If the numbers are any indication, this means that the smartphone market gap has narrowed substantially.
Apple has been working on doubling the size of their own in-house creative design team, likely as a response to increased pressure from competitors
Apple's recent online promotional material has been sub-par at best, so bringing in some fresh blood could really help revitalise the brand's image. By all accounts, Schiller is intending on taking a long, hard look at the brands current advertising plans, so that they are better equipped to take on rivals such as Samsung and HTC. At this point all agencies involved in the speculation have declined to comment.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and Macbook Pro user. His phone of choice is a Sony Xperia Z1 though, so the smartphone war between Apple and Samsung doesn't interest him one iota.