|Steve Ain't Coming Back: There's No App For That
By: Brian Keller
Someone once asked: “Why do you want to be the boss?”
Answer: “There’s always someone to blame who’s not me.”
That’s the best question ever asked and the best answer for the best question ever asked, even though someone may have made it up five minutes ago. The reason they are such a brilliant pair of sentences is the far-reaching implications that each has on the other and on almost any business.
Now, let’s make up a scenario.
You are: A once-great computer company who now has absolutely nothing going on.
They are: A once-great ad agency that has been doing the best they can with what little they have. Let’s say they are more powerful than they know, as they have taken your nothing and turned it, for the most part, into something. They have also kept your image in pretty good shape; there is wear, however.
You are: In a shakeup mode, so you decide this. “I have nothing and the public is getting restless. I have no innovations up my sleeve or butt. Steve ain’t coming back soon. I have a computer that’s shaped like a cylinder; no one is buying. I haven’t had an idea in years. I have computers, phones, and cool computer operating systems with dumb names and all kinds of stuff. I had a pioneer spirit and pioneered, among other things, the ‘new tablet’ but have never bothered to market my tablet with a keyboard system. Everyone else is touting a keyboard with his or her tablets. I mean, I have a wireless keyboard system, but when did I package it? Gee, I don’t think I did. I didn’t because I’m not like everyone else. I’m better. So they can shove their keyboard systems and their puny tablets that now give their dumb users keyboard options. I hate the name ‘tablet.’ Oh, my smartphone, which shatters easily, with the operating system that freezes and the teeny space bar, is getting its ass kicked by my South Korean Lex Luthor, or maybe it’s Mr. Mxyzptlk. Who the villain is does matter, even though it could be me. It’s not. I blame someone else. I blame the damn ad agency for me not having the products that they can launch into greatness and keep my populist pioneering image intact. I blame the agency for the fact that my cloud system stinks and the system it replaced was simple and wonderful. So, you see, the ideas that made my image a reality went away a long while ago. The agency isn't doing badly with the image. A lot of people still think of me as forward-thinking. I even like me sometimes. And the agency keeps telling me to invest more in social media. I don't; Steve didn't love seeing stuff low-‘rez.’ You should see our billboards and print; they rock. The agency stinks; they can’t take nothing and turn it into something. Why, they’re not more powerful than I think. I think I’ll whine about them in public and then I’ll go hire some of them away from the damn agency. They won’t stink so bad when they join me in my own in-house agency to start doing TV commercials. I’ll show that agency and everyone else. And I won’t have to fire the iconic agency and look bad to the stupid public. Who’s powerful now? Me. So, I think I’ll do a great ad for my tablet, whose greatest selling point is that it’s thin. They are all thin. Who cares? My people, who I took from the agency who stinks, will kill on this.
So, I go get a Dead Poets Society (Robin Williams) speech and I and my posse pair that up with beautiful footage and cool music and put beautiful people of all races and nationalities all over the place. They will think the ‘verse’ in the Dead Poets Society bit is them. Puny mortals. It’s about me ripping myself off. Hah! Winners are we.
Then some clown says, ‘This is one of my favorite speeches of all time. Kudos, love DPS! But...what does it have to do with the product? Really.’ So I say, ‘Hey, I was thinking different,’ and another clown says in some dumb advertising column, ‘It’s got the feeling of wanting to be different, but it’s not original writing, it’s the Dead Poets Society written about something else. It has nothing to do with what has made the product great. And, they really aren’t thinking too different. Unlike other work, it’s not memorable or innovative. It’s kind of pretty and forgettable. It's not their verse. It's someone else's verse.’
So what does it mean, anyway? It means, ‘Yo, no one likes my phone anymore, my tablet is getting its butt kicked by less expensive models, and they’re packaging keyboards. My computer sales, always kind of low, are going lower. Steve ain’t coming back soon, there’s no app for that. So, what do I do? I can’t fire the clowns I just sent in from the damn ad agency to start my in-house agency. They sold me on Dead Poets Society. But who do I blame as I watch the ad agency’s commercials outperform our in-house work? It ain't me, babe. It ain’t me you’re looking for, babe. Well, I guess we'll be pitting the in-house agency against the ad agency for all our TV work. That will raise spirits. Well, I walk this way. I’ll go buy someone else’s company for a few billion, making LeBron 30 million bucks richer, and I’ll attach their name to my brand. Hah, take that.
I can blame everyone for my lack of genius and instead of using engineering greatness, as I once did, I go out and buy some, and you can’t blame a guy for that. I blame everyone else for catching up to me while I’ve been sleeping.”
They Say: Bloomberg, By Peter Burrows, Jun 30, 2014
“Over the years, Apple has excelled at tasks that are typically outsourced to consultants, such as public relations and product design. So far, its decision to bring advertising in-house is not faring as well. Based on one respected measure — viewer survey scores gathered by research firm Ace Metrix — Apple's homegrown commercials are underperforming those made by its longtime agency.”
They Say: Bloomberg, By Peter Burrows, Jun 30, 2014
“The most surprising thing about the fractured relationship is Apple’s poaching of Media Arts Lab’s talent, said John Boiler, CEO of 72andSunny, Samsung’s ad agency. It bodes poorly for the future of the partnership because it diminishes Media Arts Lab’s ability to address Apple’s concerns or to find other business.
‘Traditionally, that’s just a no-no,’ Boiler said. “It’s an indication of some seriously broken trust.”
They Say: Fortune, Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray (Beats Acquisition Likely To Bring Iovine On)
“Apple’s motivation to acquire Beats for $3.2 billion appears to be to bring Jimmy Iovine, a founder of Beats (and rumored to own 25% of the company) and long time record and film producer, to lead Apple’s content strategy. While gaining [Jimmy] Iovine is a justification for acquiring Beats, we believe that $3.2 billion is a steep price to bring on one high-level executive, given our stance that Beats doesn’t appear to offer anything to Apple aside from a brand.”
We say: You're buying somone else’s ideas and high-level talent and you've been publicly whining and bullying for over a year. We hope you’ll recover and design something great again, there in California.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.” Whoever they may be.
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.
Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.
He has built the creative departments at two agencies.
He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.
Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.