Pre-judging Palm's Ads

Being a business owner, I take an interest in observing how companies market themselves. Being in the technology business, I take a even keener view how technology companies market themselves. This is why I’ve written a few articles about Palm and Sprint’s marketing of the Palm Pre smartphone.

I’ve watched the latest series of Pre ads over the last couple of weeks. The thing that struck me was the abstract nature of the ads. They feature a young woman sharing various deep thoughts about her Pre. Honestly, I didn’t think they were very good because I thought they lacked substance. I don’t think the “existential” nature of the ads are very effective in giving people a reason to go out and buy a Pre.

I purposefully didn’t say anything about the ads to my wife, as I wanted to get an unsolicited reaction out of her. She is a business consultant, so I take her opinion on matters of marketing seriously. Sure enough, just a couple of days ago, she noticed the ad and commented that it was the worst ad she had ever seen in her life. Now, granted, she uses the phrase “… ever seen in her life” quite a bit, but the fact that she said it means she feels quite strongly about it.

I must wonder, who is Palm trying to attract with these ads? Is the market segment that is influenced by “touchy-feely” ads the same market segment that will run out and buy Pre phones? Is this market segment large enough? Apparently, there are many people that feel these ads are actually creepy and/or annoying.

Again, let’s compare the Apple iPhone “there’s an app for that” series of ads. They are simple, straightforward, and effective. Apple’s ads can be summed up in this way: “look at how many things the iPhone can do and how easy and cool it is to do those things.” Then of course, there’s the tagline: “There’s an app for just about anything … only on the iPhone.”

On a side note, it seems the latest iPhone ads are much louder than other commercials. Is this a purposely subliminal design by Apple? I’ve certainly noticed the commercials because the initial loudness does interrupt my general lack of attentiveness when TV commercials are running. Then once I’ve noticed them, my inner-geek keeps me watching. If this was done on purpose, kudos to Apple for implementing such a brain-dead simple way to get people to notice their commercials.

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