What Makes a Good Tech Ad?May 26th, 2017 |
Sense, make it. I’ve recently looked at the best and the worst tech ads of the year, and aside from those that just chose some unfortunate wording, that’s the key difference. The best commercials showed the real advantages of the product and the worst were essentially non sequiturs with regard to what they’re attempting to sell.
Top tech ads from 2017:
- Apple’s “Earth — Shot on iPhone”
- Microsoft’s “#MakeWhatsNext: Change the Odds”
- Samsung’s Galaxy “The Rest of Us”
- Dell’s “Technologies – Magic”
- Cisco’s “The Network. Intuitive. Explained.”
Mark Spoonauer, the Editor in Chief at LAPTOP, the tech blog, reviewed 13 tech commercials from 2013: seven of the best and six of the worst. Here are the commercials he selected:
Blast from the Past: Good Tech Ads
- Meet the Windows Phone Nokia Lumina 1020
- Chromecast: For Bigger Fun
- It’s not Complicated “Cutest Grape”
- Galaxy S4 Grad Photo
- Xbox One: Invitation
- Samsung Galaxy Gear: Evolution
- Nexus 7: Fear Less
Blast from the Past: Bad Tech Ads
- What BlackBerry 10 Can’t Do
- HTC: Here’s to Change
- MetroPCS: Period Power
- Sony PS4 “Perfect Day”
- Apple iPhone 5C: Greetings
- Sprint: At Sprint, Everything’s Important: Friend Request
I’m pretty satisfied with Spoonauer’s analysis, but he and I disagree on a couple points. I’ll address those in a moment.
The best ads are standing back and letting the product sell itself, either through unique features, like the Galaxy S4’s Eraser mode, or the larger cultural appeal of the product, such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
There are exceptions that prove the rule (because it’s not enough to do the right thing, you still need to do it well). For example, the Apple iPhone 5C commercial does detail a product feature, but the feature is, unfortunately, that the iPhone can make phone calls—hardly the most exciting feature of such a powerful device.
There are two of these commercials that I don’t think deserve the spots they’ve earned: “Perfect Day” and “Cutest Grape.”
I thought “Perfect Day” was cute. It exemplifies the emotional reason for the product, even if not the practical use of it. That’s a feature—the fact that it’s a social outlet that permits gaming as a bonding activity is important to differentiating the product. I’ll admit that Spoonauer is correct that it falters by not showing the actual gameplay, which is something they could have added toward the end without detracting from the cute effect. Spoonauer does admit that his role as a parent may bias him against more violent ads, so he apparently doesn’t think that a couple of blokes fictitiously killing each other off for entertainment is as adorable as I do.
The “Cutest Grape” spot kind of annoys me, because it seems contrived. It’s not adorable spontaneity, but an attempt to manufacture it. It defers to the idea that kids are cute, so having kids say ridiculous things will somehow lower your defenses and endear a product to you. It lacks creativity, and unless you’re actually trying to sell a service to a child, their sweetly mistaken reasoning for using such a service is irrelevant.
I realize that I’ve just insinuated that violence is cute and children are annoying, but I promise I’m not a monster.
So how do you make a good tech ad?
- Be clever, but focus on the unique advantages of the product
- Show how those advantages impact lives
- Be inclusive by letting the audience feel like part of a greater cultural narrative
- Use background music (preferably upbeat)
- Don’t be afraid if it runs long—the traditional 30 seconds is less and less relevant
- Make your ad a piece of content that has intrinsic entertainment value
Overall, I think these ads show how the consumer is becoming more savvy. As shoppers, we know that phones make calls and that your data plan will allow you to update Facebook. What we want to know is how your product will enrich our lives in ways that your competitors’ products can’t. Let your audience know what makes you special, but like all good visual media, show, don’t tell.
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