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April 6th, 2000

[11:27 PM] Former VW Ad Exec Moving To Apple, Good Thing Too
by Staff

Advertising Age is reporting that Steve Wilhite may be taking a post at Apple as VP of marketing and possibly a combined position that would include the spot Senior Director of Worldwide Marketing Communications That post was vacated in February.

We shan't rehash the Advertising Age article (it's a good one, go read it), but we will give you the highlights. Apple will not confirm the rumor. Mr. Wilhite was with VW for 9 years and was responsible for the Drivers Wanted campaign as well as the roll out of the new Beetle. In addition, Mr. Wilhite left VolksWagen in January of this year and has been at a small motorcycle marketer named Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Manufacturing Co.

The Mac Observer Spin: The comparisons between the iMac and VW (new) Beetle have been raging since their release. Now in an ironic twist, the comparisons come home in full circle that probably has more to it than mere coincidence.

First of all, let us reiterate that this is an unconfirmed rumor from a respected advertising news magazine and is not fact yet.

Back to those comparisons: VW was just as dead, at least in America, as Apple was. Their sales in North America had declined to less than 1% of the market while the European operation was mired down with labor problems and labor unions that left the auto manufacturers labor productivity as the lowest in Europe (and subsequently their production costs the highest in Europe). The Drivers Wanted ad campaign began the resurgence of VW that culminated (so far) with the release of the remarkably successful Beetle. As we understand it, Mr. Wilhite can be thanked for much of that North American resurgence. His advertising efforts seemed to be aimed at tapping people who thought differently before Apple was using the phrase Think Different. In short, it is our opinion that the resurgence of VW in North America is very comparable to that of Apple's with both the nature of the problem (high costs and lousy marketing, although our presentation is certainly highly oversimplified) and the nature of the solution.

It is easy to understand how Mr. Jobs and/or his recruiting team could be attracted to those qualities when looking for someone to take over Apple's marketing and replace Mr. Jobs in that role.

And let there be no mistake about it, it would be good for Apple for Mr. Jobs to be able to cease overseeing marketing. He has enough jobs at it is between Pixar and Apple. Most people would long since have become burned out god forbid the day that Mr. Jobs should cease enjoying what he is doing. He is after all officially still the iCEO, an upnaid iCEO at that.


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