Apple may be planning a full public relations and marketing revamp

According to reports, Apple may be considering former White House press secretary Jay Carney to fill its open PR chief position and could be shopping for a new ad agency.

Apple Store
 Image: Apple

For years, Apple's brand has been one of its biggest assets. The logo is one of the most recognizable in the world -- indeed, it graces Apple's more than 400 stores, its shopping bags, its boxes, and more. Look at nearly any other store or company and the name is spelled out prominently. Perhaps only Nike's swoosh is as recognizable.

As such, Apple's public image is worth billions of dollars, and the company is in the process of totally changing how it's seen in its advertising and through its relationships with the press.

Earlier this year, Apple's longtime public relations head, Katie Cotton, retired. She had served for more than 20 years under both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook and ran an extremely tight ship -- she, under Jobs' instruction, was a strict gatekeeper to the company's executives and parceled out exclusives and special treatment to a handful of select reporters and columnists.

Her strategy undoubtedly worked. Under her reign, Apple got millions of dollars in free mentions, and Apple product introductions -- nicknamed "Stevenotes" -- got fervent press and customer attention, and they were nearly always executed flawlessly.

Now, with a new CEO, Apple is looking for a new public relations head from outside the company, even though Cotton had several capable deputies who could take the reins. Re/code said last month that Cook is personally overseeing the search and is looking for "high-profile external candidates," hoping to put a "friendlier, more approachable face" on Apple's PR. It's something of a polar shift for the company, one where journalists joke that sending emails or phone calls to its public relations apparatus is akin to shouting off a rooftop.

According to Re/code, one name being bandied about is former Obama press secretary Jay Carney. Tossed into a piece about black car/taxi service Uber looking for a new head of corporate communications, Kara Swisher says Carney is being considered by both Uber and Apple for the position.

It's unclear how serious the rumor is, as it amounts to something of a throwaway line in a much longer story -- but nonetheless, Apple-focused blogs picked up the story.

Carney was been a spokesperson and director of communications for the White House for three years and for Vice President Joe Biden before that. He was previously the Washington bureau chief for Time magazine before making the jump into political PR. A spokesperson who is used to dodging reporter questions could fit in quite well at Apple, though it remains to be seen what Cook's "friendly, more approachable face" for the company will look like.

Separately, the New York Post says Apple may be preparing to put its multi-billion dollar advertising account up to bid. The company, which has used TBWA Media Labs as its primary agency for some 30 years, appears to have grown disillusioned with the agency in recent years, as aggressive advertising from competitors like Samsung has apparently driven some mindshare in customers.

The report goes on to note that Apple's recent purchase of Beats, a company that's basically a marketing juggernaut for expensive headphones, could play into the role, with Beats head Jimmy Iovine expected to play a big role in the development of future Apple advertising campaigns. Some recent reports from inside the secretive company have suggested that it's hiring hundreds of creatives for its own internal ad agency.

Beats released a five-minute long online ad spot titled "The Game Before The Game" ahead of the World Cup, a spot that has received more than 23 million views on YouTube, and numerous shorter versions aired during the World Cup coverage. The company also managed to secure several athlete endorsements, and many World Cup teams used Beats headphones during public appearances (like walking from their team buses to stadiums), which resulted in countless impressions for the brand.

If Apple is looking to reshape its public image under Tim Cook, an image that Steve Jobs carefully crafted over 20 years, a key PR hire and a new ad agency will definitely do the trick. Do you agree? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.


Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.


A spokesperson who is used to dodging reporter questions could fit in quite well at Apple,

Who the heck really believes that that's the way forward for any corporation?  Apple is not a political party, nor a political candidate.  Lying or steering questions away from people finding out the truth about anything is not how any company gains the trust of people or consumers or businesses. Jay Carney could only get away with what he did because of Obama and the culture of corruption in the White House; otherwise, Apple should steer clear from any mention of Mr Carney as being "good" for P.R.; the opposite would be true.

The big problem that Apple has been noticing in the last few years, is that, people have gotten a lot wiser about what they purchase, and a nice logo is not all that's important, nor is public relations going to drive people towards continuing to purchase any Apple devices.  What is critical for Apple going forward, is to make products that are not only competitive, but better than what the competition offers, and Apple hasn't been doing that in the last few years.  Making a product is is "just as good" is not going to keep people coming to Apple, especially when the competition is making them "just as good, or better", and at lower prices. 


And I just checked Apple Insider and it said Tim Cook has never even met Jay. This story is a load of BS. Probably fabricated by an Android thumper. 


It seems like a great move since he handled the freakin president! However, as MC down there pointed out, Carney does not carry a huge reputation of greatness. Now, Apple must see something in him or they wouldn't bother going for him. Good or bad franchise industry PR move? 

Metro Critic
Metro Critic

Uh, and why exactly does Apple need such a high-power professional liar like Carney? Makes no sense anyway since Carney is so discredited amongst at least half the U.S. population, you know, the half that would assume everything he said as Apple spokesman just had to be a lie and would pretty much assume the exact opposite of everything he said was the actual truth.

Carney WOULD however be the perfect Billy Mays  replacement, hawking miracle orange cleaner and stuff on late night TV on obscure channels like the Vice Grip Channel or some such. Either that or the perfect new host for Pawnography.

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