Best Of The 2000s

Interesting!Worth a read…


Steve Jobs


When Steve Jobs returned to a struggling Apple in 1997, he brought back his original agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day, with specific instructions: Buy us some time. Jobs knew that the iMac could well save the company he’d founded in 1976 (he’d left a decade later, after a management shakeup)—but the new model was 12 months off. Meanwhile, to let the world know Apple was not going away, Jobs needed a rallying cry—something to remind the core following of Apple’s rebel spirit. The result: “Think different.” The effort relaunched the Apple brand, but carried an equally important message: Steve was back. Visionary, iconoclastic and fearless, Steve Jobs the marketer is inseparable from Steve Jobs the personality. His inimitable blend of competitive skill and design savvy hasn’t just saved a fading brand, it’s recast two businesses that used to have nothing to do with computers: music and mobile phones. Over the past decade, Apple’s iPod and iPhone have redefined popular culture, and returned the company to its roots in innovation and just-plain coolness. (Apple’s market share in PCs also jumped from 3.8 to 10 percent.) Along the way, Apple got its advertising groove back as well. Work from TBWA\Media Arts Lab underscored Apple’s positioning as a top-end brand that believes its products are worth the extra money. Jobs knew that people who choose Apple over a cheaper competitor are saying something about themselves: that they, too, think different. —Noreen O’Leary




In many ways, Saturday Night Live‘s 2005 video short “Lazy Sunday” launched the online video boom that’s caused millions of work hours to be lost watching YouTube. Before NBC forced YouTube to take it down in 2006, it generated 5 million hits (a small sum by today’s measure). YouTube helped make it remarkably easy to post video online, and even easier to stream. Plus, clips could suddenly be embedded on any site across the Web. Super syndication—now a core digital media strategy for many content companies—was born. But perhaps more of a landmark moment for YouTube was its influence over consumers’ expectations. Thousands of nobodies started sharing clips via the Web, everything from stupid human tricks to baby’s first steps. YouTube has been vital in ushering in the notion of consumer as mini-media mogul. To boot, film and TV companies are stumbling over each other to secure distribution on the burgeoning platform. The only thing missing, even under owner Google, is a credible revenue stream. One day, that will change. —Mike Shields




In terms of politics and world events, this has been a wild decade, but on the marketing front, one thing has remained constant: Apple’s emotional connection to consumers, who reward it with an almost cult-like loyalty. Though the brand almost petered out in the ’90s, last year consumers told Interbrand that Apple was the thing they couldn’t live without and the one they found most inspiring. Why? Perhaps it’s Apple’s vaguely antiauthoritarian stance (epitomized in its iconic “1984” ad). A true-in-practice focus on relentlessly improving its products also helps. But maybe it comes down to this: Most brands are run by committee, but this one is the embodiment of a living, breathing person. Steve Jobs is Apple in the way that Richard Branson is Virgin. Of course it helps when you’re a brilliant marketer who happens to be the CEO. —Noreen O’Leary




It was mid-October 2001. The country was reeling from the 9/11 attacks, but the folks at Apple sent out their invitations anyway. The event would unveil a new device that HQ had kept under tight wraps. All the invitation said was: “Hint: It’s not a Mac.” And it wasn’t. It was called the iPod—a “personal jukebox” that defines the ’00s the way the Sony Walkman did the ’80s. To date, more than 220 million iPods have been sold worldwide. The success is all the more amazing because Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player—it redefined it. Prior to the iPod launch, the devices on the market were ugly, weak and could barely hold one album. Apple added more capacity, stronger batteries and a space-age case by designer Jonathan Ive to the mix. What really drove it, though, was iTunes, Apple’s music store, which became a de facto standard for digital music. As Apple did its best to close off iTunes to competitors, the company enjoyed a near monopoly for most of the decade. —Robert Klara




Just as Google wasn’t the first search engine, Facebook didn’t invent the social network, but rather improved upon it in such a way that it became the de facto standard. In 2004, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook for fellow students at Harvard University, Friendster had been out for about a year. While Facebook was still finding its footing in 2005, MySpace became the largest social networking site. But Zuckerberg kept futzing with Facebook’s design. In 2006, he added a news feed, which let everyone on a network see when others changed their status update or relationship status, an innovation in “micro-blogging” that would spawn Twitter and redefine social networking. That may well have been the secret sauce that eventually brought Facebook to its current 350 million users. Though Facebook’s early attempts at advertising were clumsy (like Beacon, which notified other members when you bought something), marketers saw the value of a friend’s recommendation over straight-up advertising. By decade’s end, Facebook was at the forefront of the evolution of online advertising. —Brian Morrissey






A decade or so ago, surfing the Web for most people didn’t actually involve a whole lot of surfing—unless you count bouncing back and forth between AOL and Yahoo. The search engines that were around at that time (AltaVista, anyone?) were dissatisfying directories at best. Then came the Silicon Valley company with the goofy name launched by two nobodies from Stanford. Sergey Brin and Larry Page surely didn’t realize it when Google launched in 1998, but the two had founded the most powerful direct-response marketing vehicle ever created (people tell Google they want specific stuff and Google delivers ads offering that stuff). Google’s game-changing, pay-per-click ad model helped pull the left-for-dead online advertising business out of the post-Web 1.0 recession. And over the last brutal year, it’s just about the only media company that’s been consistently growing its revenue. Google’s sites now represent the largest single property on the Web, reaching over 164 million monthly unique users (comScore, October 2009). But more importantly, Brin and Page’s algorithm is much more than a media property; Google essentially caused the Internet to realize its true potential. After all, there is no long tail if nobody can actually find it. —Mike Shields


Apple, “Get a Mac”


Apple always diverged from the “speeds and feeds” ads associated with the computer category, but the brand really defined itself with the 2006 launch of TBWA\Media Arts Lab’s “Get a Mac” campaign. That series of 60-plus ads brought some humanity into the equation by turning the machines into live-action cartoons. In so doing, the comic spots offer transparent understanding of the aspirations of its audience and how people identify—and connect emotionally—with technology. The genius is in the casting. The Mac guy, Justin Long, is a younger version of Steve Jobs who is casual and comfortable in his skin. PC, personified by John Hodgman, as a rounder, paler Bill Gates, is a well-meaning geek with all kinds of operating problems. For Apple, the campaign managed the neat trick of making the brand look laid back and cool while it mercilessly skewered its rival. —Barbara Lippert


Larry Page & Sergey Brin


Here’s what really changed about media in the past decade: The fastest growing, most dynamic, disruptive and arguably most important media company of the 2000s produced absolutely no content of its own. Not a single article. No hit series. Google, founded at the end of the prior decade by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were working on their Ph.D.s at Stanford, is an engineering endeavor through and through. The company has become the glowing symbol of American entrepreneurship over the past 10 years, and one of the most influential media companies ever. But Rupert Murdoch these guys are not. Essentially, Brin and Page are tech geeks who created an algorithm that makes the vastness of the Internet searchable. They also created a media juggernaut that pulled in nearly $22 billion in 2008, and will likely exceed that number this year despite a brutal recession. Beyond an advertising gold mine, Brin and Page’s creation has also destabilized the balance of power in media. For example, Google’s success (it commands over 60 percent of the search market) sent tech giants Yahoo and Microsoft on a years-long quest that nearly led to a mega merger. It shook up the Web’s traffic patterns, helping users move away from gated portals like AOL while facilitating the growth of independent sites and blogs. Google is both a traffic creator and, to some, content exploiter (just ask newspaper companies). But perhaps more significantly, for a generation of young tech entrepreneurs behind Facebook or Twitter, Brin and Page are the very manifestation of possibility. —Mike Shields



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