Mar 10

Palm Pre: hanging on for dear life

[Sorry, the commercial I featured in this post has mysteriously disappeared from YouTube.]

It would be tough for Palm CEO Jon Rubenstein to have nightmares scarier than his everyday reality. Under-budgeted and under-technologied, he must do battle with iPhone, BlackBerry and the League of Android.

Yet the show must go on. So the ad agency is tasked with somehow stirring up interest for the Palm Pre Plus, making enough noise to give this little fella a fighting chance. What would you do? Rhetorical question. But I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be the above.

This ad, creatively entitled Features, is exactly that: a fairly dry list of features. This wisp of an idea is actually more of prayer: maybe, possibly, if we list enough distinguishing features, people will start lining up to buy this thing.

Sorry Palm, it doesn’t work that way. First, if these really are your best features, you might as well hang it up right now. Signature styling? Smart notifications? Integrated calendar view? An app that turns your phone into a mobile hot spot? Oh. Well that last one’s actually pretty cool. But a single shiny thing is hardly going to steal your quarry from the clutches of iPhone or Android. Second, creativity is your friend. At least it should be. You just made a movie with an email-sized idea.

This spot is further proof of something that hardly needs more proving: most companies do not take risks at times of crisis — even if that might be their best chance for recovery. They operate on logic. They play it safe when, more than anything, they need to capture people’s imaginations. There is no imagination-capturing going on here. Spots like this are born of rooms filled with nervous people.

Only a creative idea can command attention and change perceptions. Or, I should say, a creative idea with a budget that lets you play with the big boys. The more Palm churns out harmless ads like this, the farther into the hole they sink.

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  • sfmitch

    Funny, I like the ad. Miles better than the freaky stuff they launched with.

    However, I am not sure any ad can save Palm.

  • I don’t mind the ad. Actually it really looks like the ones Apple is bombarding us with. Sure Apple doesn’t have to recover from a bad position as Palm does. So here you spot it, trying to copy Apple won’t be enough, or will it?
    But they are in the right direction… go Palm, go Palm! ;)

  • qka

    You just made a movie with an email-sized idea.

    Hey, it works in Hollywood! Why not try it in tech?

  • Kesey

    That last one is pretty cool. I just rooted my Nexus One to be able to broadcast Wifi.

  • ChuckO

    This ad feels like the fading echo of an iPhone ad. Maybe Nokia buys them?

  • Maybe if Meg Whitman doesn’t become Governor (meaning Jerry Brown will), she can take over Palm and put her P&G background to work here. Can Palm survive until November? Just sayin. “Hello, Webvan?”