These commercials for the Palm Pre smartphone have been given largely negative reviews, with most reactions going something like “WTF”, “that girl is so creepy/ugly”, and “show more features of the phone!”
Of course, I’m posting them here because I disagree. I’m not saying it’s the most effective route Palm could have chosen, but when you’re putting out a new line of devices in a crowded playing field where one competitor dominates mindshare, and everyone else puts out ads highlighting a long list of techie features or superficial accoutrements, you need to do something bold.
These are branding ads. These are look at me and remember me ads. The worst examples of these leave viewers angry, cursing the fact that they spent energy being annoyed. Nevertheless, the images remain with them. For me, these ads are a thing of queer beauty. They’re a little creepy, yes. But they are well written, and they are different. Some of them are a little too hippie, with their New Age songs and talk of reincarnation, but such missteps are redeemed by the genius that chose such shots as the one where she turns her back on the camera twice, and the ethereal, painting-like scenes that flow behind her. I also think they were drawing inspiration from Max Headroom, and one can’t go wrong with that.
I’ve read that Palm and their US partner Sprint are running other ads in support of the Pre. Those purportedly target other demographics, while I believe these are tremendously appealing to those who don’t have strong feelings about technology. The kind of people who need a phone for business, and right now it’s a Blackberry or a very old basic phone. These aren’t the only tools in their campaign. TV ads don’t need to contain all the facts. Watch one of these, and you get the idea of what being connected, multitasking, and having GPS can do for your life, without a single bullet-point having to appear on screen.
The last and latest one, Mind Reader, is my favorite. It’s a poem to technology, read with confidence. Her final line, “Of course it does, it’s mine”, is a powerful sentiment that every geek can understand. My iPhone certainly knows me well, between the data I store on it, the connections it helps me make, and the choices that go into each of its nine pages of apps.