‘CEOs should love marketing like Jobs’

CEOs at major brands should take on a Steve Jobs-esque interest in marketing at their organisations, rather than just delegating all responsibility to a senior marketer, according to Apple’s veteran agency ad executive Ken Segall.

Ken Segall
Ken Segall, former Apple agency ad executive

As former creative director at ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, Segall worked with Jobs for more than 12 years and was responsible for naming the iMac and helped create its Think Different ad campaign. Both played a crucial role in returning Apple to profitability in the late 1990s.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Segall said not having the ultimate decision maker present in initial briefing meetings for campaigns and at regular check points in the creation process “is a recipe for disaster” as it can waste vital time if the CEO dislikes the activity when it is at its final stage.

He added: “Steve [Jobs] was unique and it did change the role of the marketing people [at Apple]. He would not allow anyone, even his vice president of marketing, to screen work before showing it to him as he wanted to see everything.

“It is unusual for a CEO to care at all about marketing, certainly at that level, to not only want to see it but not have anything filtered out.”

A lot of technology companies try to compete with Apple’s products to increase their value, but Segall argues they would do better to copy Apple the company and its philosophy – especially in taking gut instincts with marketing, rather than relying on research.

“It used to amaze me, because the senior marketing people at Intel were very competent, smart people who felt qualified to direct the agency on a day to day basis, but for some reason weren’t able to look at five ads on the table and say ‘this is the one we should produce’,” lamented Segall.

The Apple marketing team were often considered by rival marketers as “like a bunch of kids”, but Segall says the results speak for themselves.

“I am glad to be one the side of the people who do the better work. You can talk until you are blue in the face about the research but if your work is not as good, in the end, what’s the point?” Segall asks.

Apple is the world’s “most valuable” brand according to Millward Brown’s annual BrandZ report. The company’s value increased 19% to $182.9bn (£115.7bn) in 2011 as demand for its most popular products, the iPhone and iPad, continues to surge.

Click here to read why Lara O’Reilly believes Steve Jobs was a “marketing iconoclast”.

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