It all started in 1985. Apple introduced the Mac Classic and their first graphics model, the Macintosh II. To reach the education market, primarily the elementary grades,
Apple started working directly with public schools in California. Their efforts met with great success because the Apple operating system gave users a way to interact with Apple computers, technology called a “mouse.”
To capitalize on the California effort, Apple needed a program that could help schools across the U.S. afford their new computers. The solution? Apples for the Students.
For years, grocery and supermarket chains used incentive programs like stamps to “reward” loyal and frequent customers. Through an enterprising incentive group in Pittsburgh and a national supermarket syndicator located in the same city, they brought a concept to the Special Markets division of Apple.
Apple liked the concept and shared it with their Special Markets advertising agency located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. With extensive experience in special markets, like premium and incentive for clients such as Magnavox, my previous agency knew the in-and-outs of special markets and was a good fit for the Special Markets division of Apple.
Working with the two groups in Pittsburgh, we launched a nationwide “Apples for the Students” campaign targeted to elementary school systems across the U.S. Hundreds of school systems along with thousands of supermarkets signed up for the program. The result was thousands of parents and grandparents saving supermarket cash register receipts and turning them in at participating schools.
With an almost 10 year run, Apple was able to equip hundreds of schools with their newest products in their computer labs. Many of the students that started in these computer labs are now referred to as millennials, a generation of Apple brand advocates.
Big ideas are very rare, this writer was fortunate to be on the front line with Apple for the 10 years Apple pursued special market opportunities. Today, I get to work with the millennials that came of age during a period of rapid change and growth for Apple, and see the impact of our work first hand, everyday.