Is Apple Adopting a New Samsung-Style Marketing Strategy?

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

A recently posted Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) job listing for a “Buzz Marketing Manager” may indicate a marketing strategy shift for the iPhone maker. The job listing was first spotted by Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle via Business Insider. As stated in the job summary, “This new Buzz Marketing role is primarily responsible for constant and compelling exposure of Apple products with high-profile users, especially those in film and television.”

Besides plugging Apple products in movies and television shows, the Buzz Marketing Manager would also “Build and maintain relationships with high-profile influencers. Influential Apple users could be directors, actors, artists, athletes, designers and select brands or institutions. Determine which relationships have potential to maximize benefit to Apple.”

Based on the responsibilities described in this job listing, it appears that Apple is preparing to launch a marketing blitz that is centered on celebrity endorsements of Apple’s products. This would be a major marketing strategy shift for a company that has traditionally relied on emotionally evocative advertisements that emphasize the capabilities of its products. For example, Apple’s “Misunderstood” iPhone commercial that aired last December demonstrated the video capabilities of the iPhone 5S with its portrayal of a boy who makes a heartfelt holiday video for his family. While the more recent “Your Verse” iPad Air commercial featured Robin Williams reading poetry over video footage of iPads being used in various settings around the world, the emphasis remained on the creative possibilities offered by the iPad, rather than the fame of Williams.

On the other hand, rival Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) advertising campaigns have been almost entirely focused on celebrity appearances and endorsements. Last year the Korea-based company aired a two-minute-long commercial during the Super Bowl that featured well-known comic actors Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Bob Odenkirk. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Samsung also recruited Ellen DeGeneres to use its Galaxy Note 3 device to take a celebrity-packed “selfie” during the Oscars that quickly became the most retweeted picture in history.

Samsung’s marketing success with its celebrity endorsements may have pushed Apple to take a similar tack. Emails sent by Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller that were entered into evidence in the ongoing Apple v. Samsung trial revealed that he was unhappy with the marketing efforts of TBWA\Media Arts Lab, Apple’s longtime ad agency. Schiller even cited the success of Samsung’s 2013 Super Bowl commercial in an email to a Media Arts Lab executive, reported The Wall Street Journal. Samsung is “in a zone while we struggle to make a compelling brief…Something drastic has to change,” wrote Schiller.

Apple’s new interest in acquiring celebrity endorsements for its products follows the Cupertino-based company’s recent addition of several new ad agencies to its roster. As previously reported by AdAge, Apple has partnered with four more digital ad agencies, including WPP’s (NASDAQ:WPPGY) AKQA, Interpublic Group’s (NYSE:IPG) Huge, Area 17, and Kettle. Apple also hired prominent branding agency executive Karl Heiselman for a job on the iPhone maker’s marketing communications team. The recent job listing, along with the new ad agencies, suggests that Apple is gearing up for a major marketing overhaul.

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