I've spent a lot of time recently pissing off planners and digital strategists and account people. I think it's time I started pissing off brand managers.
First, let me acknowledge that in many, if not most companies brand managers have difficult, thankless jobs. I have no gripe with the work they do, or the pressure they're under.
My gripe is about advertising. In my career I've had the good fortune to work with a number of brand managers who have had very good taste in advertising. I've also worked with a whole bunch who had no clue.
In many companies, in return for all the suffering they're put through, brand managers are given something fun to do. They get to play creative director and tell the agency how to make ads. Most are ill-equipped for the task.
Some smart companies, on the other hand, understand that advertising decisions are too important to be made anywhere other than at the top.
One of the reasons I suspect Apple's advertising is, and always has been, so much better than Microsoft's is that playing with the advertising isn't something you get as an entitlement if you're a brand manager.
My guess is that Steve makes all the big ad decisions.
If Apple were Microsoft, there'd be one brand manager making ad decisions for the iPod and one for the iPhone, and one for computers, and...you get the idea.
I've never worked for Apple, but I'll bet that no matter how many brand managers there are, there's only one real advertising decision maker.