Phil Schiller and the last wisp of Steve’s Apple

Once upon a time, eight Senior VPs formed Steve Jobs’ inner circle.

Steve empowered them because they were talented, strategic, trusted and in tune with his vision.

Well, time marches on. Apple doesn’t have Steve anymore. Tim Cook has reigned for nearly nine years. One by one, most of Steve’s Gang of Eight have been replaced.

Today only Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams remain. The original Big Guns of hardware, software, retail, marketing, finance and legal have all checked out.

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Ellen’s little people problem

America loves a good “fall from grace” story. At the moment, The Ellen Show is serving up an excellent one.

Public accusations from staff have been nonstop.

Sexual harassment. Bullying. Out-of-control managers. Toxic work environment. It’s a smorgasbord of nasty.

If true, there are but two explanations. Either the real Ellen falls way short of her lovable public image, or she empowered her managers and failed to oversee them.

In other words, Ellen is either a bad person or a bad CEO.

I’m not exactly an insider. But I did spend two months working in Ellen’s world producing JCPenney’s $5 million, five-part Ellen campaign on the 2012 Oscars.

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JCPenney: A fatal lack of bravery

I swear, I try to avert my eyes—but I keep getting drawn into the sad saga of JCPenney. Why is that?

Morbid fascination? Schadenfreude? Personal guilt? (I had a hand in two years’ worth of JCP’s ads on the Oscars.)

Actually, I’m not that deep. It’s just that JCP’s failure has been more like a decade-long crumble, and it has such great lessons to offer.

Once “America’s Favorite Store,” JCP has now filed for bankruptcy protection. A single share of JCP stock, once priced over $83, goes for 18 cents as I write this.

It’s tempting to cut JCP a break, since the current crisis has hurt so many companies. But—this crisis only pushed JCP over the edge of the cliff where it was already perched.

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The first Mac’s speechwriter, unmasked!

January 24th was the 35th anniversary of Macintosh, bless its little soul.

In reading a number of articles, I got to enjoy the original Macintosh intro event all over again. It’s a vivid reminder that Steve Jobs’ showmanship and obsession with detail was in full bloom way back at the beginning.

One of the those details was “the speech.” (About 3:05 into the video.). Steve wanted to have the first Mac to speak for itself—

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I’d like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM mainframe: NEVER TRUST A COMPUTER YOU CAN’T LIFT! Obviously, I can talk, but right now I’d like to sit back and listen. So, it is with considerable pride that I introduce a man who’s been like a father to me… Steve Jobs.

That made me smile, and it got me wondering: who actually wrote these words. Steve? One of his minions?

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Every ad year has a low point

It’s that time again. We could talk about the best campaign of the year—but where’s the fun in that?

For your amusement, let’s plunge directly to the bottom.

I could ridicule the Liberty Mutual campaign for the reasons others have cited (and I will!). But I’m more curious about how an agency like Goodby Silverstein—long known for smart, award-winning work—could ever have churned out such dribble.

The obvious explanation is that Liberty Mutual is a terrible client.

There’s a saying in the biz that “clients get the advertising they deserve.” Bolstering this theory is the fact that the pre-Goodby advertising for Liberty Mutual (from agency Havas) was equally detestable.

However, this hardly excuses Goodby. What they’ve done for Liberty Mutual looks like a total surrender to somebody’s uncreative and amateurish instincts.

Whoever the culprit may be, this is a matter that demands attention from creative law enforcement.

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Sugarcoating the Apple agency layoffs

I am eternally grateful that no one ever asked me to write a PR release for a company in trouble.

It’s a thankless job, and nobody believes what you write—but write you must.

That’s why so many surrender from the start, dipping into a reservoir of classics like, “He’s leaving to pursue other opportunities.”

This was the challenge served up to the spokeswoman at Apple’s agency, Media Arts Lab, to explain the recent layoffs of 50 people.

Thankfully, she didn’t ask us to believe that those 50 simultaneously decided to pursue other opportunities. What she did ask us to believe was something equally absurd.

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iPhone is dead! Long live Apple Phone!

Somewhere in an alternate universe, Tim Cook is busy rehearsing his September 10th event.

He’s nervous. He’s about to do something incredibly bold. Maybe even crazy.

Going through his show, he pauses when he gets to the iPhone branding slide, imagining how the audience’s collective jaw will drop.

Despite the rumors, there is no number 11. There’s no X, R, S, SE, Plus or Max in sight. And that’s just the tip of this boldness iceberg. 

Alternate Tim takes a deep breath, then drops the bomb.

“Our new iPhones are so new, so totally amazing, so far beyond any iPhone we’ve made before, we’re not even calling them iPhones anymore,” he says. “Meet the new Apple Phones.”

After a 21-year run, the i is finally dead.

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A dog’s breakfast: welcome to apple.com

Help. I feel queasy. I visited apple.com and did something I deeply regret—I opened my eyes.

It’s half disappointment and half disbelief. How does the company that wrote the book on website simplicity unleash a home page that’s so amateurishly busy?

For those who celebrate Apple’s illustrious history as a world leader in design, creativity and smart marketing—it’s a shocker.

That’s because it stands in stark contrast to the website principles enforced by Steve Jobs.

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Farewell Jony, and farewell Apple of old

Jony, Jony, Jony—now look what you’ve done.

With one little “I quit,” you dragged all of us across the line separating Apple Classic and New Apple.

We had one foot over that line already with Steve’s passing. This just makes it final—the last spiritual connection to the old Apple is now behind us.

Not that your exit is a surprise. You certainly dropped enough hints. Thank you for staying long enough to keep things stable in the post-Steve era.

But yeah, it does hurt a little to see you go off to LoveFrom. Not the career move—I’m talking about the company name. Wish you’d thought a little harder on that one.

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The ghost of Apple Card past

On March 25th, Tim Cook unveiled Apple Card—”the future of credit cards.”

WTF? Fiasco! Yet another Apple blunder! Has Tim Cook lost it? Steve Jobs would never do this!!

Well … not so fast. The truth is, Steve Jobs actually did do this. At least he tried to.

The proof is likely hidden in a secret vault buried deep inside Apple Park. Fortunately, it’s also right here on my archive drive.

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