Jan 11

Adwatch: Intel soars, BlackBerry splats

These two ads have been around for a bit, but I’m sharing them anyway. Try and stop me. One proves that there’s always a creative way to say what’s been said before. The other proves that lame strategies lead to lame ads.

Starting on a positive note, here’s Intel’s effort:

In one of my first-ever posts 18 months ago, I raved about the new creative work from Intel via agency Venables & Partners. In following months, I gagged at their embarrassing Sad Robot and Penguins spots. These guys are giving me whiplash now, because this ad for their i5 processor is really, really good. (Correction 1/25 2:59pm: Venables did not create the Penguins spot, just the Robot spot.)

Not only is it fresh and mesmerizing, it’s a great job done under difficult circumstances.

Intel makes processors. Every new processor is faster than the one before. So, chip after chip, the creative guys are asked to come up with a new way to say the same thing. It’s one of the tougher challenges in this business. Then there’s the not-insignificant fact that working with Intel can make the veins in your head burst. So when someone makes a great ad, and Intel doesn’t peck it to death, this is big news.

Now brace yourself. Here comes the clunker:

Suppose for a minute that you’re BlackBerry. Your market share is in a well-documented free-fall. You’re watching as Apple and Google fight it out for new customers — a huge chunk of which happen to be your current customers. You get that apps are the big deal in mobile technology, but your own App World is a pathetic also-ran to Apple’s App Store and Google’s Apps Marketplace. (You’re only behind by a couple hundred thousand apps.)

But you’re feisty. There’s still some fight left in you. You bring in your top strategists and creative hotshots, and allocate a nice chunk of marketing money to the cause. And what do you get? An ad that basically says: With BlackBerry, you don’t just get apps — you get “super apps.”

It’s stunning, actually. You would think that grown adults with even a fleeting familiarity with the smartphone market would know better. Does anyone believe there’s anything about the BlackBerry OS that would allow it to run apps that are more “super” than Apple’s and Google’s apps? What the hero of this spot does seems to be easily accomplished via iPhone or Android. This is simply BlackBerry wishing things would be different — but the cold reality is there for all to see.

BlackBerry once had such a commanding share of the smartphone market, it’s hard to imagine them fading to nothing. But ads like this make you think that’s a distinct possibility.

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  • In comparing the two ads, the importance of concept and execution really stands out.

    After all, you could say the same thing about the Intel ad that you said about Blackberry’s ad: what’s shown in the spot (not literally, of course, but the basic idea of quickly using lots of apps) could easily be accomplished by the latest processor from AMD. But the Intel ad grabs you and gets you excited about THEIR processor. The Blackberry commercial is as dull as their product designs.

  • Matt

    The Blackberry will fade to nothing. The UX is terrible and the buggy OS is worse! Rim just doesn’t get it.

  • neilw

    That Intel ad is spectacular. Truly impressive, so many individual ultra-clever moments in it.

    The Blackberry ad: “Look, we have apps!” Who’da thunk?

  • Stephen Sonnenfeld

    Best Intel work since the Aliens campaign.

  • What was the Intel spot used for? It’s 1:45, so it’s not an ad…

  • KenC

    The Intel promo spot reminded me of a piece of work by some Chinese-American guy in NYC who was trying to get noticed. He had an actress lip-sync a song, while he used every app on his Mac to illustrate it, much in the same hyper way that the Intel spot did. Very, very similar. I wonder if he got hired by their agency.

    I’ll try to find that piece on Youtube.

  • KenC

    Found it.

  • Riz

    Copying is the sincerest form of flattery isn’t it Venables & Partners? :-)

  • Mark lillywhite

    At one point in the BB spot he appears to be starting an app with a wireless antenna icon called “manage connections”. Lter, he’s standing in front of a private jet… Checking frequent flyer points?? No attention to detail at all!

  • Daniel

    BB spot: Screen Images Simulated!! :)

  • Marj

    Venables had nothing to do with the Penguins spot. Just sayin’.

  • ken segall

    Yes, I stand corrected on that one. I will note this post accordingly. Venables is officially off the hook for Penguins. But still on the hook for Sad Robot.

    I should also add that I have much respect for Venables. Overall, they’re one of the more creative and intelligent agencies out there. When you swing for the fences, it’s inevitable that you will sometimes strike out. We’ve all been responsible for our share of clunkers.