Apple is set to hire four digital agencies, including WPP's AKQA and Interpublic Group's Huge, as well as small indie shops Area 17 and Kettle
|Scooped by Joachim Scholz, PhD|
Apple is rather timid when it comes to advertising, spending only less than one percent (0.644%, to be exact) of its sales on advertising in 2013. While its massive brand community and the love of the online and offline media adds a lot of earned and spontaneous exposure to Apple products, the rise of its new arch rival Samsung (on the mobile hardware side) means that Apple needs to step up its game.
It just did so by signing on four new ad agency, mainly small ones that focus on digital marketing campaign. Apple's CMO Phil Schiller had recently a fall-out with their main ad agency TBWA/Media Arts Labs, but this does not mean they are shifting gear there completely.
What it means though is that Apple will become more aggressive when it comes to its digital and social media marketing strategy. And this is good. Apple has been too silent on this front for too long, too much relying on its vibrant brand community, and only recently have we seen some more focused effort on branching out into new communication media. For example, check out the tumblr backgrounds / themes that were introduced to boost iPhone 5C sales (also on Marketing in Motion).
Apple has to react to Samsung's higher spending and faster growth, even though Apple still leads by pretty much every metric, because the mobile market as a whole is transitioning into the maturation phase of its life cycle. Smart phone growth has flattened out (hence the need for cheaper 5C iPhones and larger screens in -most likely- iPhone 6). And while tablet computers are in my opinion still in the growth phase (see iPad 5 adoptions outpacing iPad 4 adoptions by the factor 4 or 5), competition is stiffening up in this market as well, with Samsung offering great options, and of course Microsoft, if they get the Surface finally right (which might be by now, I haven't checked out Surface 2 yet).
The article in Ad Age speaks towards this brand strategy aspect at the side:
"As Samsung and Apple continue the fight for market share, Samsung marketing is clearly winning for consumer love, with its cool selfies and earned media strategy. It's a rivalry that would prompt any brand to change up its marketing approach and invest in digital marketing and social media support -- an area in which Apple has been less aggressive than its competitors."
This move might also tie in with Apple's acquisition of social media search engine Topsy that Apple made back in 2013 (or 2012?). At that time, no one really knew why Topsy changed hands, and some argued to boost recommendation engines in the iTunes store or something like this. However, I then thought that this might be part of Apple's strategy to bring some more social media listening expertise and power in-house, and the expansion in digital ad agency would nicely fit with this theory.