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Apple Ad Agency Cuts 50 Jobs as iPhone Maker’s Needs Evolve

Mark Gurman

(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc.’s outside advertising agency has cut about 50 employees, according to people familiar with the matter. The firm said it was adjusting to the changing needs of its only client.

The staff reductions at Media Arts Lab were made Monday in several divisions, but many of the job cuts happened in the strategy division that helps Apple come up with ads for its latest products.

“Yesterday was a difficult day, as we had to part with some of our talented colleagues,” a Media Arts Lab spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “Our relationship with Apple has never been stronger, but as the needs of our client continue to evolve, we must adapt and continue to evolve the composition of our teams.”

Geoff Edwards, who started running Media Arts Lab’s marketing for Apple services earlier this year, is one of the people who have left. He helped launch the Apple TV+ video streaming service on Nov. 1.

“Apple’s confidence and trust in MAL as our singular ad agency is as strong as it’s ever been. As we continue to evolve our marketing approach, we’ve asked MAL to do the same,” said Tor Myhren, vice president, marketing communications at Apple.

Media Arts Lab, which operates out of Los Angeles with Apple as its only client, is owned by global advertising powerhouse TBWA Worldwide. The agency has served Apple for decades, including when the famous “1984” commercial for the Mac ran during the Super Bowl. It was also responsible for campaigns such as “Get a Mac,” which compared Apple computers with PCs and the “Shot on iPhone” billboards and TV ads. More recently, the firm created ads for the latest iPhones and services such as Apple TV+.

Media Arts Lab works closely with Apple to develop messaging, ads and publicity strategies for its devices. Apple executives, including marketing chief Phil Schiller and co-founder Steve Jobs, were known to meet on a weekly basis with the firm in L.A. and at the iPhone maker’s Cupertino, California, headquarters.

A few years ago, Apple considered firing Media Arts Lab after Samsung Electronics Co.’s smartphones caught up with and then passed the iPhone as the global sales leader, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets.

Lee Clow, who worked closely with Jobs for years and ran Media Arts Lab for decades, retired earlier this year.

(Updates with Apple comment in fifth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew Pollack

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