The Birth Of Apple's Ad Insert

By Philip H. Dougherty
The New York Times

March 1, 1984

The ad campaign for Apple Computer's new Macintosh model, especially the outstanding 20- page magazine insert, has received some high marks from some aficionados of the language. But more important, it has had a major impact on consumers, and a rush to buy is reported.

The insert is winning praise because it makes the workings of the Macintosh understandable and really does create a desire for ownership. The person largely responsible for the insert is Penny Kapousouz, a 31-year- old, Glen Cove, L.I., native. For most of the last seven years, she has worked in the Los Angeles office of Chiat/Day, Apple's agency since it began advertising.

''I was writing it to people who knew little or nothing about computers,'' she said during a telephone interview the other day. ''It was easy for me since I know little or nothing.''

The enormous print production number was practically her first assignment on Apple business.

''At first I cried for two hours because I was overwhelmed by the assignment,'' she said. ''But I didn't have time to be overwhelmed; the timing was outrageous. I quite literally panicked and then dove in.''

She was working with Steve Hayden, a vice president, who has been writing ad copy about Apple computers for so long that he confesses he has great difficulty keeping the messages simple.

So Miss Kapousouz's first page starts out: ''In the olden days, before 1984, not very many people used computers. For a very good reason. Not very many people knew how.''

Then she talks about it making more sense ''to teach computers about people, instead of teaching people about computers'' and about Apple engineers coming up with ''a personal computer so personal, it can practically shake hands.''

The headline is one of Mr. Hayden's contributions: ''Of the 235 million people in America, only a fraction can use a computer.''

What makes the insert special to the people who worked on it was the challenge of time. Including production, according to Mr. Hayden, a job like the insert would take 110 days. He and his associate had 44 days.

Recalls Miss Kapousouz: ''I got all the information I could get about the computer itself. Asked a lot of questions of the engineers. Essentially what I did was translating and that was the hard part.''

Print was always part of the media plan back to last June when Macintosh introduction planning began with John Sculley, president of Apple, and Steven P. Jobs, Apple's chairman.

It was the latter, in fact, who told the agency when it was planning only a six-page insert to ''go for broke, take as many pages as you need to tell the whole story,'' Mr. Hayden remembers.

''Then,'' he said, ''our concern was that we were spending so much money we wouldn't be able to get frequency. But Steve Jobs encouraged us to go ahead, and the impact has been worth it.''

It would have been nice and a lot easier on the agency if, once the copy was finished and the layout completed, Mr. Hayden and Jay Chiat, chairman, had flown off to an Apple sales meeting Oct. 24 in Hawaii and had it approved in a trice by top client management. But such was not to be the case.

By the time they got to the islands, Mr. Sculley and Mr. Jobs, who had reappraised the competitive scene with I.B.M.'s Personal Computer, had realized the seriousness of the inroads being made into their market and had directed their agency people to makes the ads more competitive. That meant a five-day grind - with lots of coffee - in a hotel room 30 floors over Waikiki Beach. Out came vague references to other computers. In went specific comments about I.B.M.'s PC.

And then for another competitive tweak, the spot TV advertising ran in the top 10 markets plus Boca Raton, Fla. - where I.B.M. makes its PC.

The philosophy behind the writing of the ad, Mr. Hayden said, was: ''Give people the news that they can really do it; they can understand how it works. For 35 years the industry has had one promise and it has been ease of use. And it's not been true.''

He added, ''But suddenly we have one that is easy to use and it's like the boy who cried 'Wolf.' ''

The insert ran for the first time in the Feb. 20 issue of Time and will next run in Business Week, Forbes, Newsweek, Fortune and Inc. magazine. The price tag: $2.6 million.

Mr. Hayden described the overall strategy: ''The first 100 days is the time limit Apple has set to establish Macintosh as the third industry standard for personal computers. In 1977 Apple was the first. That opened the market. In 1981 the I.B.M. PC set the second standard and was gobbling up Apple's market share. Now our purpose is to make Macintosh the third standard in 100 days.''

Meanwhile, Miss Kapousouz, who missed the Oahu chaos but is still given major credit for the insert's authorship, has gained more confidence and continues to love the medium.

''I love print,'' she said. ''It is one of the most underrated and overlooked parts of the business.''

Copyright 1984 The New York Times Company