Apple takes an innovative approach

Client: Apple CanadaProduct: Apple technologyAgency: Wunderman WorldwideGreg Olson, manager of direct marketing at Markham, Ont.-based computer company Apple Canada, says the computer firm likes to market what it believes is 'an innovative product in innovative ways.'The company bound an interactive computer...

Client: Apple Canada

Product: Apple technology

Agency: Wunderman Worldwide

Greg Olson, manager of direct marketing at Markham, Ont.-based computer company Apple Canada, says the computer firm likes to market what it believes is ‘an innovative product in innovative ways.’

The company bound an interactive computer diskette into the cello-wrapped spring 1993 newsstand issue of Profit magazine

The diskette appeared as part of a double-page spread that encouraged readers to ‘Take the Apple challenge’ by responding to an on-disc quiz.

At the end of the quiz, participants could touch the return key on their personal computers to print out a fax form requesting further information.

In the case of subscription copies, readers were asked to call a 1-800 number to request their free diskette.

The campaign was targetted to businesspeople who were working on older computers (286 models) that are not powerful enough to run Windows, a program that makes computers operating in a dos environment easier to use.

(dos is the brand name of the disk operating system used in ibm and ibm-compatible personal computers.)

Olson says the idea was to convince these prospects to convert to Apple technology rather than upgrade their machines to the more recent 386 or 486 ibm-based models.

in this special report, Strategy asks a cross-section of clients why they selected direct response marketing as the vehicle for a given campaign and how the creative was developed to exploit the strengths of that medium.

The seven interviewed are among those who commissioned the gold award-winning campaigns that were honored at the 1993 RSVP Awards, held recently in Toronto.

The rsvps recognize creative excellence and results.

They are presented annually by the Canadian Direct Marketing Association.

Q. How did the campaign come about?

A. It was an opportunity presented to us by CB Media, the publisher of Profit.

They had proposed to a number of different advertisers an opportunity to buy space on a diskette that would be bound into the magazine.

Rather than partnering with other organizations, we decided that we would go for the entire property and turn this into an Apple exclusive.

It fit with a desire we had to use technology to sell technology, and, more specifically, to use technology to sell our technology.

It provided us an opportunity to talk to the dos side of the marketplace about Apple computers and Apple technology since the diskette was a dos-formatted diskette.

Rather than wait for them to come to us, we would essentially speak to them in their language. We would craft an Apple message and try, in some small measure, to recreate the Apple experience in a dos format.

Q. What were your objectives?

A. Ultimately, we want to sell machines, but a big part of this was just to test the media.

We were interested in finding out a) what effect the message might have and b) what effect the media might have in enhancing the message.

This was a first for us, so, in terms of setting quantifiable objectives, it was difficult. But, intuitively, this was something that was too good an opportunity to pass up.

We met all of the response objectives that we set, which were modest because we didn’t know what we were getting into, as I said. But we pushed the needle a bit.

It did affect perceptions and attitudes in a positive way with what, in some cases, has been a hostile audience. They had become slightly more predisposed to the Apple message.

Q. Why did you select direct marketing as the vehicle to get your message across?

A. We wanted to test the effectiveness of the vehicle, so we wanted to know who had received it, have an opportunity to identify the recipients, and be able to measure the response.

Direct marketing also allowed us to build our prospect database from among those who responded to the offer for more information through the fax form.

We were interested in identifying people who were predisposed to our message so we could enter into a dialogue with the best prospects from responders to the program.

Q. What was it about the creative that made the campaign work?

A. The double-page spread that carried the diskette was married with a corporate campaign that we did at the time called ‘The hard way. The easy way.’

It was a comparative campaign that explained the benefits of Apple Macintosh versus the competition, the competition being DOS/Windows in an ‘us-versus-them’ scenario.

We took that theme and adapted it in a print execution that could carry the diskette and also act as a direct response ad. We wanted it to be consistent with other corporate work that was on-going.

So, the first criteria was to leverage the existing ‘hard way/easy way’ campaign.

Our primary objective was to do the best job in crafting a creative environment on the diskette itself.

We were trying to depict a graphical user interface to people who had worked only in dos, so we took a lot of time – working in only 16 colors, rather than 256 or 1,000 colors – to do a reasonable job of representing the Macintosh interface.

That, frankly, was where the balance of our time and troubleshooting was directed. That turned into a technical challenge rather than a pure marketing communications challenge.

We had to accept the fact that we couldn’t recreate the Macintosh environment, but we said, ‘Let’s do the best job we can’ working to a 286 and vga rather than super vga monitor quality.

Our research suggested that people did go through [the quiz on the diskette], that it did accomplish its objectives. The medium itself had a great bearing on the curiosity and interest in the program.

There was nothing on the diskette that we haven’t said before in other media, but here was an innovative and potentially entertaining way to deliver the message.