Former Apple CEO John Sculley: Steve Jobs Sold Experiences, Not Products

Guest Writer
6 min read
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Long before Steve Jobs convinced John Sculley to join him at Apple as the company's CEO, the two would meet to discuss the power of "experience marketing."

At Pepsi, in the 1970s, Sculley managed to capture significant market share from rival Coca-Cola by creating the "Pepsi Challenge," an ad campaign in which the company recruited people off the street to participate in a blind taste test between Coke and Pepsi and filmed their reactions. (At that time, Coke was by far the better-known soda, but when the labels were obscured, many people chose Pepsi).

Jobs loved the concept behind the Pepsi Challenge." I said,' Steve, what we learned is that it’s all about the experience,'" Sculley remembers. "We never talk about the product details, we only try to capture the experience."

Related: How to Build a Brand Experience for Customers

Clearly, Jobs internalized this lesson. In 1984, when Apple -- now with Sculley onboard as CEO -- introduced the Macintosh in a cryptic Super Bowl commercial, the now iconic ad was pure experience marketing. "What was remarkable about that commercial, especially for a high-tech product, is that we never once showed the product or mentioned any technical characteristic of the product," Sculley says. "All we did was sell the experience that something exceptional was going to happen on January 24, 1984."

Judging from recent Apple ad campaigns and events, it's clear that 30 years later, the company remains a master at selling experiences rather than products. "In many ways Apple is really not a high-tech company as much as it is an experience marketing company," Sculley says.

Watch the video below to hear Sculley discuss the importance of experience marketing, and why Apple's masterful execution of the concept elevates the company above competitors such as Microsoft and Samsung.

Related: Former Apple and Pepsi CEO John Sculley: Great Marketers Do This

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