Apple Emails Reveal Samsung Nearly Got ‘1984’ Ad Agency Fired

Source: Thinkstock

Internal Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) communications recently revealed in the ongoing patent-infringement trial between Apple and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) showed that the Cupertino-based company once considered parting ways with TBWA\Media Arts Lab, its longtime ad agency, reports The Wall Street Journal. Emails sent by Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller to CEO Tim Cook in 2013 revealed that the company executives were worried about Samsung’s attack ads that targeted Apple products and users.

Apple “may need to start a search for a new agency,” wrote Schiller in an email to Cook obtained by The Wall Street Journal. “[W]e are not getting what we need from them and haven’t been for a while.” Schiller also forwarded an article from The Wall Street Journal to a Media Arts Lab executive that highlighted the success of Samsung’s “The Next Big Thing” advertising campaign. Samsung’s ads typically portrayed Apple users as older and out-of-touch with the latest smartphone technologies, while Samsung users were portrayed as young and hip. “We have a lot of work to do to turn this around,” wrote Schiller.

TBWA, a unit of Omnicom Group (NYSE:OMC), has been creating advertisements for Apple for over thirty years.  Lee Clow, the chairman and director of TBWA\Worldwide, was the creative mind behind Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial and was a longtime personal friend of Steve Jobs. TBWA\Media Arts Lab also crafted the “Think Different” advertising campaign for Apple soon after Jobs returned to the company in 1997. At an international advertising festival last year, Clow appeared to acknowledge the difficulties that Samsung’s advertising campaign presented to Apple. “It’s now a big challenge, the marketing and communications for Apple,” said Clow, according to The Guardian.

Another Schiller email cited by Samsung’s lawyers showed that the Apple executive was also concerned about the success of Samsung’s 2013 Super Bowl commercials. In an email seen by The Wall Street Journal, Schiller wrote to a Media Arts Lab executive that Samsung was like “an athlete who can’t miss because they are in a zone while we struggle to make a compelling brief…Something drastic has to change.”

Samsung’s lawyers introduced Schiller’s emails as evidence that the Korea-based company was winning customers because of its effective advertising campaign that highlighted the company’s unique smartphone features. “We will show you internal Apple documents, documents that haven’t been made public before, and showed how Apple was really concerned about competition from Android, and in particular Samsung,” stated Samsung lawyer John Quinn according to The Verge. “This new, edgy marketing strategy…it drove Apple crazy.”

As noted by The Wall Street Journal, Samsung’s lawyers also showed the jury a presentation slide created by an Apple employee that highlighted desirable Samsung smartphone features that were lacking in Apple’s iPhones. The slide was titled “Consumers Want What We Don’t Have.” The Apple-Samsung trial continues in San Jose, California, on Monday.

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