The surprise decision is a serious blow to Bite Communications, which has enjoyed a prestigious 14-year relationship with the brand.
Confirming the news, Bite CEO Clive Armitage said: ‘Apple is going to accelerate its process of taking activity in-house and operating its in-house department.
‘The relationship has been fantastic for us and for Apple – in many ways, it was the account that put us on the map.’
Apple’s rethink means Bite will lose the anchor client (hence its name) for which it began working in 1995, when it spun off from Next Fifteen sister agency Text 100.
Sources told PRWeek the account’s financial value to Bite had dwindled in recent years and now amounted to less than £100k per annum.
Armitage said Bite’s recent merger with Inferno Communications (PRWeek, 22 April) had acted as a ‘catalyst’ for Apple’s decision, because of Inferno’s conflicting business with Apple’s bitter rival Microsoft.
An industry source added that the relationship between the two parties had ‘morphed’ in recent years.
‘The Apple account has become very secretive,’ said the source. ‘Bite’s activity has become less strategic and more press office, and Apple has been building its in-house team.’
Others noted Apple’s ‘unique’ status within the PR landscape made it less reliant on agency counsel. ‘It doesn’t want an intermediary working on its behalf,’ said a senior tech agency source.
PRWeek can also reveal that Sheryl Seitz, a senior figure in Apple’s European PR team, has left the company. Seitz was originally poached from Bite in 2005.
Apple comms news
2009 Major PR gaffe culminates in Apple being forced to withdraw iPhone game ‘Baby Shaker’
2007 Advertising Age calls a PR role at Apple the easiest job in marketing. ‘The job is simply to sit at a desk,’ it says
2006 Tech bloggers reveal Apple is increasingly asking them to contact the company direct, rather than going through Bite
2005 Apple hires Bite consumer MD Sheryl Seitz and ex-staffer Tanya Ridd