Apple’s new iPhone has Christopher Percy Collier’s name written all over it. Literally.
A former freelance travel writer published in the New York Times, Mr. Collier’s byline is in a screenshot of the newspaper’s website now being used in Apple’s national marketing campaign for the iPad and the iPhone 4.
Mr. Collier is one of several people nationwide surprised to be included in the image used to promote Apple’s new devices in television commercials, national newspapers, retail stores, Apple’s website and onstage during CEO Steve Jobs’ recent keynote address.
As a writer, Mr. Collier told friends that he dreamed of his work one day being featured in New Yorker magazine. When Apple’s iPad ad appeared on the magazine’s back cover – complete with the shot of his kayak article – his wish came true.
When he embarked to write “Exploring the Florida Keys by Kayak” for the Jan. 30, 2009, New York Times, Mr. Collier invited his former Chattanooga neighbor, Tash Elwyn, along for the adventure.
Once there, Orlando, Fla., photographer Chris Livingston snapped a photo of Mr. Elwyn, Mr. Collier and Andrea Paulson, the owner of Reelax Charters QC, pulling kayaks into the Gulf of Mexico.
“Christopher liked to make fun of me since I’m the only one in that photo wearing a life preserver, even though there were only two or three inches of water,” said Mr. Elwyn, now a senior vice president at Raymond James and Associates in St. Petersburg, Fla.
About a year after the story ran, they were contacted by an advertising agency and asked to sign nondisclosure agreements. Mr. Elwyn said he scanned the form, glanced over the word “Apple” and signed it.
“I naively thought that maybe it was Apple Tours or perhaps a travel agency,” he said. “I didn’t connect the dots that it was THE Apple.”
Mr. Collier, who now lives in Avon, Conn., and works for a Fortune 500 company, said he was instructed to keep quiet about the ad.
“They didn’t want any leaks, so they swore us to secrecy,” he said. “They barely told us it was for Apple.”
The Friday before this year’s Academy Awards, Mr. Elwyn received an e-mail notifying him that the commercial he was in would be airing.
“My wife decided to throw an Oscars party for the one-eighth of a second it was on TV,” Mr. Collier said. “We had a lot of cheers.”
Ms. Paulson said she didn’t know how Apple would use the photo until she saw it in the iPad commercial that debuted during the Oscars.
“They showed my picture for a nanosecond,” she said. “I was really excited.”
Ms. Paulson said she didn’t realize the photo was used by Apple beyond the commercial.
The photographer, Mr. Livingston, died in a car accident in November, before Apple’s ad campaign began.
Mr. Livingston’s wife, Cathy, said she didn’t know the photo was going to be used in Apple’s ad until a friend e-mailed her the day after the Oscars. She said her husband, an avid Mac fan, owned several iPhones.
“I know this is going to sound bad, but had he been alive he would have died to see his photo used by Apple,” she said. “He would have thought ‘I’ve arrived; I’m done.’ That man loved his iPhone.”
Mr. Elwyn said that although he was compensated for his appearance, it was before he realized the magnitude of the campaign.
“For as many times as it appeared, I should have negotiated a better deal,” he said. “But let’s just say it was roughly enough that I’m now the proud owner of an iPad.”
Mr. Collier said he likes that the iPad offers hope to the print industry.
“In a world where there’s concern over the future of publishing, it’s nice to be part of an example of what it could be in the future,” he said.
Mr. Elwyn said he’s endured “endless ribbing” from friends who have spotted his picture on the back of USA Today and other high-profile publications.
“I periodically get e-mails from friends saying, ‘I just saw you on the back of The Economist,’” he said. “I’ve had friends travel to New York and say, ‘I think I’m gonna get sick if I see you on the side of a bus.’ As far as this Apple thing goes, I’m well past my 15 minutes of fame.”
New York Times Company spokeswoman Diane McNulty said that the company reviews and approves images of the newspaper’s website that Apple uses in its ads.
As a White House reporter for The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg said she was amused when her kids spotted her byline in a banner ad when they stopped at the Bethesda, Md., Apple Store.
Ms. Stolberg said that even though the new iPhone ads are calling her name, she doesn’t yet plan on upgrading from her old 3G model. Nevertheless, she said she hopes the ads encourage more people to read the newspaper.
“If iPhone ads can send readers to The New York Times, I’m all for it,” she said.
Stephen Labaton, a former New York Times writer who shared Ms. Stolberg’s byline in the ad, said he had no idea his name was featured in the campaign at all, although he’s used to finding his byline in all sorts of places after 23 years of writing.
“I don’t have an iPad or an iPhone,” he said. “Maybe (Apple) should send me one now.”