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November 01, 2004



Hello everyone. I was looking for a list of the "best that there is" superstar creative directors in asia at the moment (with some basic info like location & which agency that they work for). Can anyone help ? Thanks.

Nick Wreden

As always, thank you for kind words, and I appreciate your commentary about my reaction to the famed "1984" Apple ad. Your point is well taken about the Apple ad not causing Apple's fall from corporate America's grace; rather, it was both technological insularity and hubris that were behind the long, slow, painful decline.

But, in a way, that point vindicates my point about the ad. Advertising, in many ways, mirrors corporate culture. It is easy, for example, to tell from reading an ad whether a company is customer- or internally focused. If an ad has more "we," us" or other corporate first-person references than "you's", then it is highly likely that the corporate ideal of a customer relationship is cashing a check. Apple produced an ad that did not reflect the concerns of its current and potential customer base, just as its product development was unable -- for whatever reason -- to produce products that could have kept the Microsoft juggernaut at bay and saved us all from generations of buggy products. No, the ad did not cause Apple's decline, but it was certainly symptomatic of it.

But the real reason for writing that blog was not to criticize Apple (I'm writing this on my G5 and looking at my iPod recharge). The impetus was a visceral reaction to a book I'm reading by Ian Batey on branding in Asia. Ian is a legend in Asia, and is the brains behind the long-term success of the Singapore Girl, one of the best brand icons of all time. In the book he sets up the 1984 ad as the paragon of all great advertising, using it, for example, to argue that production values need to account for up to 1/3 of the money and focus of any ad campaign. Production values?! Not research, messages, targeting or any other aspect of advertising or branding?! With such an attitude, is it any wonder that branding doesn't get the respect it deserves in executive suites?

I heard a good phrase recently: "creative imperialism." The writer was referring to how everything at agencies gets subjugated by the lord of creativity. Effective? Measureable results? Sustainable sales increase? Who cares, as long as the output was "killer creative" that "pushed the envelope."

Those who are lauding the Apple ad are talking about the "killer creative" and "production values," but ultimately, what really matters is long-term profitability. And, yes, the awareness from the ad has been truly phenomenal, but I've yet to meet a banker who will extend a business loan based on "awareness."

And it most be noted that the awareness that Apple generated was not solely from the ad. The ad was integrated with other ground-breaking activities, including, I believe, a first-ever insert in the Wall Street Journal, large inserts in major business magazines, road shows, etc.

Thanks again for your perceptive comments.

hugh macleod

"There are a laundry list of executive decisions that drove Apple into niche-player status, including a closed operating environment and an obsession with controlling the entire process of innovation."

A consequence, I believe, of adhering to the post-Marxist idea of controlling the means of not only the production (basic Marxist term), but of consumption AND conversation (basic post-Marxist term).

Michele Miller

Jennifer, I'm in complete agreement. The operation of Apple is completely separate from the 1984 ad. We should all wish for a single ad that has had the Impact Quotient of the 1984 ad! As far as image and branding were concerned, it hit the mark. It was a time of stepping out of the ranks. Now, it's a time of self-actualization, and Apple is hitting the target with the iPod ads.

Jonathan Marks

I think it was the "1984" spot in around 1983/4.

That Fast Company article is even truer today as Apple is trying to roll out i-Tunes in Europe. Lots of innovation, but the library of Dutch, German, i.e. European music turns out to be a big disappointment. Licence to existing content providers of this stuff? Nooooooo.

I think people at HP have been watching too much of Jobs. They sent Steve Robison to the broadcast fair IBC ( in September, who also hoped that he could stage walk and drum up interest in their brands. But because he was reading everything from prompters on the stage, there is no emotion in his voice - whereas the examples played in on video were brilliant. They forgot that in this case the audience was not full of the party faithful as one sees in the Mac presentations.

Great Blog - really enjoy reading it here on Europe's West Coast.

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