The latest TV spot for Palm's Pre smartphone resurrects a song from the early 1980s, and uses it as background for some pale wisp of an actress to spout off zen nonsense about traffic lights turning green.It seems to build on an earlier spot featuring the same android-like androgynous woman surrounded by hundreds of monks in orange gowns dancing Busby Berkeley patterns as she chants about her life.
Though it's all quite atrocious, at least it's consistent.
The Pre deserves better. It has received pretty good reviews, and the folks at Palm have serious claims to owning a lot of the history and thought leadership in the area of smart mobile devices. It also faces a ton of smart, well-financed competition from RIMS (Blackberry) and Apple's iPhone. So it risks being an also-ran, or just another gizmo that doesn't make consumers' consideration lists.
The challenge is to carve out a unique position, or purpose, for the Pre. Find a thing or activity that it uniquely enables or supports. Risk being explicit on a functional benefit (or list thereof, if the phone is a good as I think it is). Help consumers finish the sentence "I should consider a Pre because..."
The branding campaign for the Pre doesn’t even come close to meeting that challenge.
I'm all forgiving new life to the song "Doot Doot," from the West German band Freur. I would have never connected it to a smartphone; it's this ethereal, kinda sad dirge that always gave me an existential German oh-this-is-so-horribly-beautiful vibe. The band was famous for about a nanosecond before returning to the ether. They deserved better, just like the Pre.
But the campaign confuses tone with content, and this presumption that we can connect disparate emotions to things -- instead of consumers doing the connecting through their experience -- leads lots of otherwise smart marketers down the wrong path. It would have been a lot stronger had the creative been based not on making some abstract point, but rather told us something concrete and memorable.Then the Pre branding gurus could have gone out and found a song to use. Maybe something with the chorus "better management of contacts" or "I found the website faster." Hell, AT&T paid Oasis millions to write a song from scratch for its commercials a few years ago (oops...but it said nothing, and you only heard two beats of it).
The Bulb Asks:
- Isn't what you say a lot more important than how you say it?
- Should we expect busy consumers to deconstruct imagery and messaging?
- Does talking about a bad commercial prove that there's no such thing as bad PR?