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Summary:

So, you launch a brand new product with a lot of publicity into a very crowded market. How do you promote that product? If you’re Palm, by running what some folks have dubbed “creepy,” “annoying” ads that don’t explain — at all — what makes your […]

palmpre073109So, you launch a brand new product with a lot of publicity into a very crowded market. How do you promote that product? If you’re Palm, by running what some folks have dubbed “creepy,” “annoying” ads that don’t explain — at all — what makes your product great. The ad agency behind the spots, Modernista!, says the campaign is a success because people are at least talking about the phone. Gary Koepke, executive creative director at Modernista!, told AdAge, “The Pre is probably being talked about more than other phones right now because of the marketing and advertising, and that’s a good thing.” But does it help sell more phones? I think at this point, the network a phone is on does more selling than the handset itself. Regardless, the Palm ads, featuring actress Tamara Hope vaguely comparing a woman juggling and keeping track of her past lives to using a Palm Pre, are nothing like the ads Apple ran when the iPhone was first released — you know, the ad that actually showed what the iPhone could do, and how it was totally different than anything that came before. Give both videos a watch, and let us know what you think:

Palm Pre: “Deja Vu”

Apple: “There’s Never Been An iPod”

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  1. Great article. You guys made a good point. I am sure that the Palm’s ad campaign doesn’t resonate with most Americans. This is the kind of TV ad that the Scientology or Evian would make, not a handset vendor.

  2. I was highly anticipating the Pre’s release, following all the online chatter and rumors and looking forward to its release on June 6. When I saw the first ad on Facebook, I was disappointed. This follow up ad is even worse. Yes, these ads are creepy. Who is really the target market here? I would think only a very slim market segment would identify with these ads – not a mass general market Palm is trying to reach. There is certainly nothing “cool” about these commercials, IMO. Sprint does a much better job of advertising what the Pre can for you than Palm does.

    Had the Pre for 3 weeks and I am loving the 3GS now…….

  3. Chancey Mathews Monday, August 3, 2009

    The Pre ads are kind of creepy, but in a way that keeps you thinking about them (and the Pre) long after they’re over. And if you don’t think they’re creepy, try this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKSD30jl_h0

  4. Dean Higginbotham Monday, August 3, 2009

    I know the current meme is that this is a creepy ad. Which I think is funny since before today I realized that I enjoying them — and actually sit and watch them. I normally surf away from ads asap.

    So there are a few oddballs like me out there who actually do like this series of ads. My demographic? I dunno…look at my FB profile I guess. Whatever I am demographically-wise, they’ve hit – perfectly.

    1. Oh, as a follow-up to those who say “it doesn’t show the product” – heh, 99% of the ad’s don’t show much of the product. Some don’t show any of the product – Geiko is something to do with cavemen, simple things and a gecko…oh and I think they sell some kind of generic car insurance.

      Ads are all sex appeal and rock star noise – if you want to see the product, go to the store and read the tech specs.

    2. You just think she’s pretty. Anyway, sure, Geico doesn’t show the product, but the product there is insurance! Aflac and Geico have both been hugely successful with their animal pitchmen, but you can’t actually show insurance — you can only get mind share. But Palm doesn’t even get mind share with these ads — it’s just bizarre. Apple shows how the product is better and says the words “iPod” over and over and over to drill it in. Great ad. Palm’s is just bad.

      1. @Jordan: Of course, you can “show” insurance.

        Allstate does that all the time with its Dennis Haysbert spokesperson, enumerating the many ways Allstate is good for you versus the competition: teen driving situations, accident forgiveness, etc.

        Safe Auto focuses a lot on folks in tight spots: they’ll come through for you in a pinch with proof of insurance. Farmers Insurance (I think) is all about getting you back on your feet after an accident.

        Compare that to Geico. Yes, they’ve done a bit of John Doe saved X amount on insurance, but they seem to be dwelling these days on exploring the lives and attitudes of the cavemen and gecko pitchmen.

    3. My wife’s current phone is a Palm Centro. She’s due for a phone upgrade and was thinking about the Pre. The “creepy” ad has made her absolutely refuse to get the Pre. She hates it with a passion.

      So, yes, we talk about it when it’s on, but it’s usually along the lines of “I hate this f@cking ad” or “What the f@ck is the point?”. She doesn’t partake in tech blogs or social news sites, so this isn’t a “meme” thing with her (I know the current meme is to ascribe to memes opinions that you disagree with and want to delegitimize (yes, irony)). And yes, I know that one data point does not a trend make, but neither does your remark that you find the ads enjoyable.

  5. Sprints doing a better job of advertising it (on television) than Palm is.

    I want the Pre to succeed 1) because it will force Apple to innovate and 2) I root for the underdog. But this company is doing a piss-poor job of informing people what this phone is capable of. If I’m an uninformed person I have no idea what the cards are, and why she’s flipping through them.

    Scrap this project and get a new ad agency to start over.

  6. The Palm ads are horrible…they don’t tell me anything about the phone, or how I would use it. I like the “Now Network” ads – they could play off that stylistically, and focus more on the actual advantages of the phone…maybe take on the iPhone directly like the Sprint print ads are.

  7. Frank Digabont Monday, August 3, 2009

    Let me be honest. I came home s**tfaced, turned on Jimmy Kimmel and saw that ad.

    My first thought: Whatever this is I don’t want any part of it.

    I had been thinking, maybe a Pre, maybe an iPhone.

    Now the Pre’s out of my life…. even though I never particularly wanted an iPhone.

    -fd

  8. These ads are garbage.

    Palm should be showing their product. The only reason not to show the product is if it can’t be shown or isn’t worth showing.

    @dean higginbotham – you can’t show the product in car insurance (as with many other industries), Geico is building brand awareness and they are very successful.

  9. The ad does make a pretty clear reference to what Palm claims is a competitive advantage for WebOS – true multitasking, and a UI to make task-swapping easy.

    Trouble is, the feature is difficult enough for mortals to understand on its own, and when the ad makes metaphorical reference to it nobody will understand.

    Palm was always going to have trouble with their techy claims. They would have been better pitching the touch-screen-with-a-full-keyboard-that-isn’t-just-on-T-Mobile smart phone.

  10. Strange Thoughts Tuesday, August 4, 2009

    I found the ads, not creepy, but both uninspiring AND nonconveying of the kind of information an ad has to convey. If I hadn’t already known about the Pre I wouldn’t have had a clue what they were about. And, again, had I not already known about the ad 10 minutes later I certainly wouldn;t have remembered anything about what was being advertised (since ti only shows up in the last few seconds and for SURE doesn’t “stick”!).

    Someone elsewhere mentioned the “ShamWow” ad series. Now THAT was a set of ads there were TOTAL advertising success.

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