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?

SceneLink (2550)
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The above scene was taken from the 9/15/00 episode:

September 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...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2551: 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?...

  • 2552: 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...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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