Apple Doesn’t Need Celebrities To Sell Its Products, So They Don’t Get Special Treatment

Apple Doesn’t Need Celebrities To Sell Its Products, So They Don’t Get Special Treatment

Not even Shaq could get an iPhone out of Steve Jobs. Image courtesy of Fast Company.

One of the perks that comes with having your face on television is the torrent of free stuff that companies throw at you in the hope that you’ll be spotted using their product and boost its sales. Celebrities receive all kinds of gifts from expensive jewelry, to clothes, cars, and even $100,000 gift bags just for attending the Oscars. But they can forget receiving any preferential treatment from Apple.

The Cupertino company refuses to give away its products to famous faces, and it certainly won’t send them out early. Celebrities must wait until launch day just like you and I.

Fast Company reports that Apple is “skilled at saying “no” to people who only hear “yes”.” The highly secretive company would not confirm how it deals with the stars, but some of the stars themselves were happy to speak about their struggle to obtain Apple goods.

Shaquille O’Neal, an analyst for TNT and a former NBA star, reveals he begged Steve Jobs personally for the first iPhone, but Apple’s co-founder refused to give him one:

The great Steve Jobs, rest in peace, when the iPhone was first coming out, I used to call him every other day. Can I please get one first? Can I please get one first? He never gave me one. He said, ‘Shaq, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.’ He was a great guy.

Bradley Frank, a celebrity publicist with Rogers & Cowen, attempted to get the iPhone 4 early for his clients, but he had no joy:

When we shot the last Old Spice campaign with Isaiah Mustafa, Apple was shooting the iPad 2 campaign on the next sound studio. We tried to check it out, but it was like machine-gun guards, check-in at different stations. They had code names. It was like dealing with the CIA. Then they walked their asses right onto our set, and had no issue doing that. They just walked onto our set! We were like, ‘What are you doing? You can’t do that!’ And when the iPhone4 came out, I can’t tell you how many clients were like, ‘We need that early.’ And Apple’s like, ‘No.

Channing Frye, a forward for Phoenix Suns, has a cousin who works in marketing at Apple. But he can’t even get his hands on inside information:

My cousin works for Apple, in marketing. I bug her every day about what’s coming out. All she can say is, ‘What you have works perfectly fine.’ Literally, they are like a secret society–if I tell, I have to kill you. It’s just wild how they are so tight-lipped about everything.

Apple’s approach is of little surprise to us. The company is famously secretive about its unreleased products, and it certainly isn’t the type to bow down to a famous face.

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  • threedeuce5

    Just another reason why I like Apple

  • sirpychosexy

    Really? What about this…..
    http://www.cultofmac.com/48444

  • samwise666

    Didnt Obama say that he got the iPad 2 just before its release?

  • John Neumann

    Even Woz has to wait in line like us common folks! 

  • Garry Denny

    That Shaq story and quote is great. Thanks for posting. As Justin said – another reason I like Apple. They are so disciplined.

  • Snoop

    A gift is different than begging, and that’s pretty privileged if you ask me. 
    I wonder if Jobs engraved Obama’s name on the back, so everyone would know if he tried to scalp it on ebay for double money?

  • atimoshenko

    If memory serves, some Stefan Kohlburt character opened a small music awards ceremony with the original iPad two days after the keynote and over two months before it shipped…

  • Chuck Nigash

    Um, that player is not Shaq.

  • liveblogtoday

    I like Apple’s policy, but I wish they give Woz these gadgets before everyone else.

  • Tim Meesseman

    I’m pretty sure Woz has said he could get them if he wanted. He actually prefers to stand in line with other fans of Apple’s products like a commoner.

  • Jordan Clay

     I think Colbert got his iPad 2 early and Obama got his iPad a little early.  I think Colbert begged but it was still a gift.

  • ken147

    same here, I wonder if Steve got pissed off at Shaquille for calling him every day and begging. I would of loved to hear those calls!!!!

  • Michael Sherman

    Celebrities must wait until launch day just like you and I.  I think you mean you and me.

  • Michael Sherman

    Colbert got his iPad 1 early.

  • SupaMac

    um, yes it is. and he’s getting pwnd by Pau Gajobs

  • tornacious

    Yes, that is Shaq, wearing the hated green Celtics jersey, showing once again the traitor that he is.

    Ha! I always knew Steve Jobs was a Lakers fan!!!

  • David

    End of 2nd paragraph: ought to be “you and me.” :) #grammarpolice

  • baleara

    I believe he had the presidential seal engraved on the back.

  • Brandon Dillon

    I think he likes the social aspect of waiting out with fans. There’s not a single person at Apple that wouldn’t give that guy an iOS device early if they were able.

  • Mitch McKee

    Apple might be the only company better than Nintendo when it comes to keeping things secret.

  • Peter

    Apple is not above using celebrities to hawk their wares.  Or did we all forget about the Rip, Mix, Burn advertisement?  Not to mention the old Apple Masters program and Apple adding the 20GB iPod to the gift bags at the Emmys.

  • howie_isaacks

    What the hell?  What makes them think they’re any better than the rest of us?  Screw ‘em!  They can buy all of the Apple products that they want.  Why do they think they’re entitled to getting them for free?  Apple doesn’t need their freeloading help.  Apple’s products are highly sought after without being sighted in some celebrity’s hand.

  • berianlowe

    I’m sure that Apple had Seal creaming his pants over the G4 iMac in a promotional video?

  • KateMacVerde

    “Celebrities must wait until launch day just like I need to.” It would not be “like me need to.”

  • KateMacVerde

    “Celebrities must wait until launch day just like I need to.” It would not be “like me need to.”

  • KateMacVerde

    “Celebrities must wait until launch day just like I need to.” It would not be “like me need to.”

  • RAGordy

    That’s true as long as you forget the years the iPod topped ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things’.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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