10
Sep 09

Going where someone has gone before

How do you sell an okay smartphone like Palm Pre when you’re up against a certifiable revolution like iPhone? Not so easy. So let us exude warmth and empathy for our advertising brothers up north, doing this work for Bell Canada. Then let’s slap them around a bit for violations of the creative code.

We could file this under “imitation is the greatest form of flattery.” But we’ll instead file it under “imitation.” Look at this spot (one of three I see on YouTube) and see if it reminds you of anything. In theory, one valid form of attack would be to turn Apple’s weapon against them. However — if you’re going to use that technique to somehow call attention to your own product, surely you could add some distinguishing mark of your own. A clever ending, perhaps? An unexpected twist? A stylish vest? (Oh, right, they tried that.) If not for brand-building reasons, there’s always professional honor.

I think there’s a valuable lesson here for every student of our craft. The quality of voiceover and music in this spot are not excruciatingly bad — they just seem that way. And they seem that way because we all play back the Apple spots in our minds — and, sorry, Apple got there first. That’s the danger of imitating. You’re not dealing with absolutes, you’re dealing with human perception. Personally, this spot just makes me want to hug my iPhone a little harder.

I couldn’t find any current references to those responsible for Bell’s work, other than some older news releases referencing “The Dream Team” of four agencies working together on behalf of Bell, “led by an elite trio of creative directors collaborating in a new and innovative client-agency model.” Note to PR department: stop it.

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