CLIENT OF THE WEEK: Could the iMac revive Apple? Alan Hely hopes a ’funky’ computer will help boost sales, Harriet Green says

Alan Hely has been stuck all day in a cupboard-sized room in the bowels of a London hotel. It’s claustrophobic, he’s run out of biscuits and the tea is stewed.

Alan Hely has been stuck all day in a cupboard-sized room in the

bowels of a London hotel. It’s claustrophobic, he’s run out of biscuits

and the tea is stewed.



Despite this, Hely, the UK marketing director of Apple Computer, is

bubbling with excitement. For the 36-year-old Scot is showing off his

new baby to the British press - the iMac, Apple’s futuristic home

computer.



The iMac is blue and egg-shaped with a round mouse. And, as Hely

delightedly points out, even the cables are fun: translucent and

multi-coloured.



Much is riding on the iMac’s launch - it marks Apple’s re-entry into the

low-price consumer segment of the PC market after an absence of nearly

two years. In recent years, consumers and business have been moving away

from Apple to lower-priced standard PCs running Microsoft Windows.

Apple’s share of the world PC market has, consequently, shrunk from

about 10 per cent three years ago to about 3 per cent.



’In the past couple of years, we’ve lost our way in the consumer

sector.



We haven’t had a compelling product with a compelling price point,’ Hely

admits.



The iMac is set to change that. Apple is backing its launch with a

dollars 100 million global advertising campaign from TBWA Chiat/Day in

LA, the agency that launched Apple Mac in 1984. The campaign follows

last year’s ’think different’ advertising after co-founder Steve Jobs

rejoined the company.



Ads will focus on the iMac’s key features - easy internet access (hence

the ’i’), simplicity and speed. Lines include: ’I think therefore iMac’,

’Sorry, no beige’ and ’mental floss’. ’We are using the product as the

hero of the advertising,’ Hely says.



Hely has worked at Apple for three years, joining from Thorn EMI where

he headed Radio Rentals’ marketing. He’s gooey-eyed over the iMac but

insists he’s no techno-geek. Instead, he buys into Apple’s idiot-proof

pledge: ’I’m not at all technical. My job is to make things simple to

understand. If I can’t then who can?’ he chuckles.



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