TV-PGSeptember 15, 2000: Apple enlists Chiat-Day to secure written promises of "no Mac rumors" from publications where it pays for ad space. Meanwhile, new Cube commercials hit the airwaves, and the Mac OS X public beta is taking slightly longer to ship than anticipated...
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Sign This Or See Ya (9/15/00)

Ladies and gentlemen, if you thought Apple's aversion to rumors was a bit over the top before, we're here to tell you that the latest chapter in the saga has become positively surreal. It's one thing to sue an employee who violates his nondisclosure agreement and posts trade secrets in a public forum. But now that Apple's ad agency, Chiat-Day, is apparently demanding statements from magazines swearing that they don't publish rumors or speculation about the Mac platform, well... let's just say we've been peeking under our desks looking for Rod Serling.

Yes, folks, it seems that Apple aims to pull its advertising funds from any publication that would be so gauche as to pontificate about upcoming Apple products. That's certainly the company's right; after all, why should Apple spend money supporting a magazine that it feels hurts its business? But according to a ZDNet article (first forwarded to us by faithful viewer Julie Stephens), this goes way beyond Apple pulling some ad revenue from magazines who say things the company doesn't like. Instead, Apple's decided to go the "crazy billionaire recluse" route-- by having its lackeys at Chiat-Day contact each publication where Apple spends its ad budget, and demand a promise in writing that they don't "participate in publishing rumors or speculation about Apple or Mac."

We'll let others debate the ethics of advertising dollars influencing editorial policy. What we zeroed in on is this seemingly compulsive behavior of collecting written affidavits of allegiance from publications that Apple apparently sees as potential "enemies." The people at Chiat-Day are the geniuses behind 1984 and the "Think different" ads; surely they have something more important to be doing than securing these written statements? For Apple to have them running around collecting affidavits instead of cranking out cool new ads just seems a little... well, kooky might be the word we're grasping for. We have this vaguely disturbing and unsavory image of Steve Jobs sitting in a disinfected white room, obsessively reading and re-reading each sworn statement, poring through magazines to ensure that the "no rumor" mandate hasn't been violated. The next thing you know we'll be hearing that Steve no longer cuts his hair or nails and has started collecting his urine in jars.

As for us, heck, Apple would never advertise on this show in a gazillion years anyway, so we're not directly affected by the required pledge of allegiance. But we're definitely a bit concerned by Apple's mounting paranoia; if it gets much worse, the company's really going to suffer. Will the talent stick around when management tells them they have to wear a wire, can only talk to security-cleared individuals, and have to have tracking chips implanted in their skulls?

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The End Of Silence (9/15/00)

AtAT junkies will recall that a couple of weeks ago, we bemoaned the lack of TV commercials for Apple's spiffy new G4 Cube. The new iMacs had commercials; so did the Pro Mouse. So why was the Cube kept off the air? Well, while we were deprived of Uncle Steve's latest public address (what with being stuck on the wrong continent and all), we noticed that MacNN's keynote report includes a quick mention of "two new G4 Cube commercials... shown to the audience." Unfortunately, they provided no details beyond that, leaving us to wonder what these new ads were like and what songs Apple had licensed for them.

Then, last night, we could finally stop wondering-- a little. There we were, kicking back on the couch and infusing our beings with a healthy and cleansing dose of summer reruns, when suddenly the crunching opening chords of Hendrix's "Purple Haze" blasted from the TV's speakers. The Cube appeared onscreen. Though we wasted precious attention-span resources trying to figure out just how Apple had settled on "Purple Haze" as a theme song for the Cube (which is neither purple nor hazy), we caught at least a little of the voiceover, which went something like, "Super-fast, super-quiet supercomputer-- all in an eight-inch cube." At which point Katie, AtAT's resident fact-checker and Goddess of Minutiae, did what she does best: "Was that Henry Rollins doing the voiceover?" You know, we think it probably was. And as the enormity of that fact sunk into our heads, one inescapable thought emerged: dammit, now we're gonna have to go and buy one of these things.

If Katie's right and it is Hank stumping for the Cube, this wouldn't be his first Apple commercial; he did that "What's On Your PowerBook?" print ad several years back. We assume his voice would probably be featured in the other commercial, too, which we didn't see ourselves-- but faithful viewer Mark Czynski did. We're short on details, but apparently it goes something like this: "POWER! MAC! G4! CUBE! POWER MAC G4 CUBE!" That's all we know-- other than the fact that it appears to be in rotation on American network television. At broadcast time, the Cube ads still aren't up at Apple's ad page yet, so we can't confirm any of these details... but we assume QuickTime versions will be posted any minute now. Meanwhile, anyone want to buy a heavily-used workhorse PowerTower Pro for, say, $1799?

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Craftsmanship Takes Time (9/15/00)

Okay, maybe we're just overly-antsy, but we feel like if this were a cartoon, we'd be walking around with giant suckers for heads. Forty-eight hours after placing our order for the Mac OS X public beta and ponying up an extra ten bucks for FedEx shipping, we're still betaless. Not only that, but checking the status of our order through the Apple Store's (admittedly cool) order tracking system reveals that our order is still "being assembled." Being assembled? It's a freakin' CD-ROM, for crying out Pete's sake-- what, are they hand-carving each disc from a solid block of plastic or something? Tell you what, Apple-- we'll gladly forgo the fine Cupertino craftsmanship of an individually-etched unit for one of those soulless, machine-stamped CDs if it means we'll receive it before we keel over from impatience. Even if Apple ships it today, that would mean we pretty much blew $10 for nothing, since FedEx presumably wouldn't deliver until Monday and standard U.S. Mail would probably get here by then anyway.

Then again, it sounds like it probably won't ship today; a reader over at MacInTouch spent forty minutes on hold with the Apple Store to find out what was up with his beta order, and was finally told that his copy would ship "no later than next Tuesday, September 19th." The reason? "Unanticipated response." Apparently Apple had no idea that a lot of people might like to order a copy of the beta, and was utterly shocked and taken aback by the fact that the first public release of an operating system that's years overdue is actually generating some interest. Granted, it is a very heavy volume of orders-- 29,000 as of yesterday afternoon-- but still, you'd think that Apple might have prepared for something like this to happen.

So much for a weekend spent trashing our data by recklessly installing beta software without backing up first. Sigh. Guess we'll have to find some other way to get our death-wish kicks... at least until Apple's artisans catch up on their CD-whittling and ship our order.

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