Mother plays matchmaker in Dell's new 'Rendezvous' Streak spot

By David Kiefaber on Fri Nov 5 2010

Ad agency Mother did this spot for Dell's new Streak tablet, and it has the same yuppie social-media focus that just about every competing product does. That said, it's also the first new Dell ad I've seen in a while—part of a global rebranding in the wake of the whole Enfatico disaster. "We wanted to show that our technology enables something important—relationships—and forge an emotional connection with viewers," says Liz Matthews, Dell's global consumer brand director. The "meet cute" plot line is pleasantly inoffensive, though it's not totally clear why you'd need a device that's halfway between a smartphone and a tablet. Maybe they need a snappy tagline. How about "Dude, you're getting a Streak"?

Not a big fan of technology? You will love the Windows 7 phone

By Todd Wasserman on Mon Sep 27 2010

We've seen anti-technology ads from the likes of Dentyne before, but it's hard to recall such messaging bankrolled by a tech company. Until now, that is. A couple of ads for Microsoft's Windows 7 phone seem to make the claim that with the new device, we'll actually use our cell phones less. To underscore the problem, one ad (shown here) is a montage of cell-phone addicts missing real-life events to text or check their phones. One guy even drops his phone in a urinal and then retrieves it, eliciting a "Really?" from his neighbor at the next urinal. In another ad, a British woman chirps that her new W7 phone updates all the important stuff on the main window, allowing her to get in and get out, unlike the poor schlub behind her at the coffee shop who's holding up the queue. Maybe Microsoft is on to something here. After all, when was the last time you saw an ad from an oil company encouraging you to use more gasoline?

Intel's Romanian engineers make a big leap of faith for employer

By Todd Wasserman on Tue Sep 21 2010

If Intel's "Sponsors of Tomorrow" commercials haven't convinced you that the company is composed of some wild and crazy guys (and gals), this video might help. Here, Intel engineers in Romania attempt to one-up those Finnish engineers from the popular "Cannonbells" viral of 2009 by jumping off the side of a five-story building and on to mats that chime various notes upon impact. The Romanians hit the right sequence and recreate Intel's famous aural branding trademark. This is all well and good, and it's nice to know Intel employs fearless risk-takers, but personally I couldn't care less. I'd rather they spend their time coming up with cool new devices. I doubt the Apple engineers are jumping off rooftops, though some may be thrown off by Steve Jobs.

Commodore returns, but can it beat its cheesy old commercials?

By Todd Wasserman on Fri Sep 17 2010

Gen X nerds rejoiced yesterday at the news that the 1980s PC brand Commodore is making a comeback. Apparently, Barry Altman, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., entrepreneur, thinks the brand can survive in the iPad age. Altman gave no clues about the marketing (Korey Kay & Partners is doing ad chores), but he might consider using this 1982 ad from Kornhauser & Calene as a blueprint. Here, a pre-Priceline William Shatner is beamed in to hype the "wonder computer of the 1980s" as a viable alternative to Atari (you youngsters might want to Google that name). "Unlike games, it has a real computer keyboard," Shatner says. Best of all, the price was less than $300, a feat that the PC industry still can't match. Another spot took on Apple—not a bad idea in this day and age, either.

DreamWorks penguins wreak havoc in new cinema spot for Intel

By Todd Wasserman on Fri Sep 3 2010

Those adorable penguins from Madagascar (and their own show on Nickelodeon) will hit Screenvision theaters this weekend in a new in-cinema spot for Intel. In the ad, one of the penguins (who can tell them apart?) attempts to steal the i5 processor, Pink Panther style, by dodging lasers. Of course, things go horribly wrong, and the poor bird is soon bouncing off the walls. The ad is the latest manifestation of a deal between Intel and DreamWorks. That explains why this spot exists, because it's hard to figure the target audience: kids who buy PCs or adults who get dragged to a lot of CGI films. Probably a bit of both.

Nokia turns to cartoons to explain its complicated tech research

By Todd Wasserman on Wed Jul 21 2010

Nokia has been pretty quiet of late, but the company has been steadily engaging in some low-key marketing via its Nokia Conversations blog. As you might expect, much of the content is about the cool stuff Nokia is doing. Describing such activities can be a challenge, but Nokia has risen to the occasion with this clever five-minute video on the topic of Cognitive Radio, a project under way from the Nokia Research Center in Finalnd. I had no idea what Cognitive Radio was before, but now I have a pretty clear idea thanks to the animated segment about Basil's search for his dog, Pepper, which combines twee Brit narration and a style that seems like a mashup of Pixar and Davey and Goliath. In a category where advertising usually revolves around gadget fetishization, this is a fresh approach.

Billboards learning to recognize the age and gender of passersby

By David Kiefaber on Tue Jul 20 2010


Another sci-fi trope has come to life, unsurprisingly, in Japan, where digital billboards now discern the gender and age of passersby and adapt their messages accordingly. According to a spokesman for this project, "The camera can distinguish a person's sex and approximate age ... if he or she looks at the screen for a second." The plan is to progress to interactive advertisements if this project catches on. Now we're moving into sci-fi stuff I've written, which is really scary. Connections to Spielberg's Minority Report are being made, and not kindly, but honestly, Facebook has been tailoring its ads in a similar way for a while now. They rely on user feedback to determine which ads to display, but the principle is the same and, in a lower-tech way, it's just as creepy and invasive. But since advertisers will spare no expense to pester us night and day, this is really more of a gradual shift than observers realize. That doesn't make being read like a barcode by ads in public thoroughfares any more welcome, though.

Norwegian cinema dramatizes Java's battle against Microsoft's .Net

Posted on Thu Jul 1 2010

The debate between Oracle's Java and Microsoft's .Net software is heating up, at least in Sweden Norway, judging by this fake red-band trailer for a pro-Java movie. Java 4-Ever tells the story of a young Swede Norwegian who rebels against his father's strict devotion to .Net and gravitates toward the dreaded Java. Here, Java is presented as a choice akin to homosexuality. His son being queer for Java eventually hastens the father's death and leads to a moment of doubt for the young man, too. ("Maybe you were right, Dad," he says to the tombstone. "Maybe it's easier if Microsoft sets the standard.") But a young hottie played by "Scala Johansson" convinces him otherwise, and soon the two are entering Java code in a highly original way. If you see just one trailer for a fake movie about Java today, make it this one.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Hewlett-Packard pitches the Slate ... the tablet that isn't the iPad

Posted on Wed Apr 7 2010

Hewlett-Packard wants you to know that the iPad isn't the only tablet device out there. Concurrent with Apple's release, HP has rolled out this 30-second demo showing all the cool stuff it's Slate gizmo does. As the Silicon Alley Insider notes, this HP blog post doesn't directly mention Apple but implicitly criticizes the iPad by highlighting Slate features that the iPad lacks, like Adobe Flash and Air support and an implanted camera. The Slate is likely to be priced at $549, more expensive than the cheapest iPad (which is $499). HP, which once licensed Apple's iPod, clearly has its work cut out for it, but it's clear that the industry is no longer flat-footed when confronted by Apple's new high-profile releases.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

One small step for man, one giant leap for Sony Vaio computers

Posted on Tue Mar 2 2010

If you believe they put a man on the moon, you might be interested to know that the Sony Vaio laptops of today have more processing power than the first rocket to complete the 1969 moon landing did. Using that bit of information as a springboard for a teachable moment/social-media event, Sony and Intel have launched The Rocket Project, a program in which eight students and technologist entrepreneur Tom Atchison will attempt to use a Vaio computer to launch a 25-foot, 500-plus-pound rocket, though this one will go only to the stratosphere, not the moon. The crew is currently working on the launch, which is set for April 12. In the meantime, 180LA has put together this video to generate excitement. None of this, however, addresses the nagging question: If they can put a man on the moon with this stuff, why does my browser freak out when I have too many windows open?

—Posted by Todd Wasserman



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