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November 26, 2012

Apple marketing legend boosts ‘Simple’ style

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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Ken Segall, author of “Insanely Simple: The Obsession that Drives Apple’s Success,” speaks about his experiences working with Apple and Steve Jobs at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield Nov. 16.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A tech marketing expert who worked on Apple’s “Think Different” campaign recently revealed the company’s corporate culture at a Nov. 16 business breakfast held at the Jewish Community Center.

Ken Segall, author of the book “Insanely Simple: The Obsession that Drives Apple’s Success,” was involved with some of Apple’s famous branding campaigns, such as “Think Different” and the incorporation of “i” in front of brands, such as “iPod.” In addition, he has worked for other tech companies, such as Dell and Intel.

According to the Jewish Community Center’s Shari Lebo, Segall’s visit was part of the 61st Annual Jewish Book Fair that was held in November. She said the JCC was thrilled to host his appearance.

“Ken Segall was an executive who worked closely with Steve Jobs for over 12 years; he is uniquely qualified to share the reasons behind Apple’s extraordinary success,” she said.

According to Segall, Apple is iconic due to its history, its co-founder Steve Jobs and its track record of innovation. In an email interview with the Beacon, he called the company an American success story that is unlikely to happen again in the same way.

“When you think of all that Apple has done, it’s almost impossible to believe that one company (and one man) could have been responsible for it all,” Segall said.

Apple’s accomplishments, Segall said, include the first personal computer, the graphical interface and revolutions in digital music, smartphones and tablets. But he believed that Apple became the giant it is today by prizing creative ideas and rejecting the temptation to act like a corporate behemoth.

“In all my years working with Steve Jobs, the one thing I saw him do most frequently was swat down ‘big business’ behaviors when he saw them,” Segall said.

“He did not believe that great ideas were born in big-company structures. So he wouldn’t tolerate formal presentations, complicated processes and committees.”

The author called his time with Jobs, who died in 2011, an emotional roller coaster and didn’t dispute the CEO’s reputation for perfectionism.

One time, Jobs “exploded” upon seeing a prepared advertising insert about the iMac because a photo supposedly had the wrong hue of blue. However, the photo was fixed in time, and Jobs later praised the marketing effort as “the best launch in the history of Apple,” Segall said.

“There are plenty of stories out there about Steve being a difficult person to work with, and I don’t deny that he was often that person,” Segall said. “But he was a real human being as well, with a very different side that didn’t get a lot of press.

“He could be charming, inspirational and funny. He could get misty-eyed, thanking the agency team for a job well done. One of the most amazing things about him was his ability to focus on so many tiny details. Nothing escaped him. Ever.”

While Segall said Jobs could not be replaced, he predicts that Apple and its executive team will continue to adhere to their core principles.

“As long as Steve’s values are kept alive inside Apple, the company will continue to thrive,” he said.

Ken Segall’s book, “Insanely Simple: The Obsession that Drives Apple’s Success,” is available for sale at Amazon.com. Learn more at www.kensegall.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.