In a recently discovered video on 99u, former Apple VP of Marketing Communications Allison Johnson details what it was like working in Apple's marketing department under the always watchful eye of Steve Jobs.
Recalling her time at Apple, Johnson describes how there were two words within Apple's marketing department that were considered dirty; "brand" and "marketing." The reason, Johnson explains, is that the word "brand" in Steve's mind was too closely linked to "artificial" things like television advertising. Instead, Jobs wanted to focus more on people's relationship to the product. As for the "marketing" moniker, it was avoided because it's typically associated with selling to somebody as opposed to educating them.
Indeed, a common theme put forth by Johnson was that Apple's marketing department was primarily concerned with educating consumers and showing prospective buyers what they can do with the product.
One particularly interesting relayed how the marketing department at Apple worked closely with the product development teams.
The marketing team was right next to product development and engineering team, so we understood deeply what was important about the product, what people's motivations were... what they hoped the product would achieve, what roles they wanted it to play in peoples lives. And because we were so close, we were able to translate that to our marketing efforts.
Using the iPhone as an example, Johnson explains that there were any number of different advertising angles the company could have pursued for such a revolutionary device. Nonetheless, they chose to focus on just three things; that the iPhone was a phone, an iPod, and the Internet in your pocket.
As for what it was like working for Jobs, she explained that it entailed "playing your best game every single day."
Johnson further elaborated on how Apple's position as widely discussed and followed company gave it advertising advantages not many other company's can enjoy. For instance, during the six-month period after the iPhone introduction and before the iPhone launch, Apple only released one TV ad as it could rely upon the Apple community to talk, write, and read about the device. This phenomenon, Johnson said, is unique to Apple.
"I don't think there are a lot of companies that can operate that way."
During a Q&A portion of the interview, Johnson relayed two interesting stories about Jobs which serve to demonstrate how passionate he was about the arts and Apple itself.
First, Johnson recalls how momentous it was for Apple to finally land The Beatles catalog of music on iTunes. In conjunction with that, Apple sent a team to the UK to pick up over a thousand never-before-seen photographs of the band. When brought back to Cupertino, Steve Jobs pored over the photos as they laid upon a boardroom table, walking around "in tears." For Jobs, it was an important milestone and a "really special moment."
Second, Johnson recalls how emotional Jobs became in the wake of the Antennagate saga.
Jobs, Johnson explained, was beyond sad and angry about the issue and how it was getting portrayed in the media. With Apple's core leadership team, along with the company's product and marketing teams sitting around a boardroom table, Jobs pounded the table saying, "This is not the company I want to be, this is not what we are building. We don't want to be that company, we don't want people to think about us this way."
Driving the point home, Johnson explained that whereas The Beatles moment was one of tears, "this was sobbing." Jobs cared so much about Apple, Johnson explained, that the two were very much one and the same.