Feb 11

HP takes a walk on the lame side

As it often does, Sunday night’s Grammys brought us both pain and joy. For joy, we got the snubbing of Justin Bieber in favor of Esperanza Spalding. For pain, HP was kind enough to step in with a new commercial for its forthcoming webOS products.

Let us pause to give HP credit for its sense of drama. If an ad is to horrify listeners with its soundtrack, what better place to fail than on the most important musical event of the year?

HP’s offense was to take the classic, generation-defining Lou Reed song, Walk on the Wild Side, and turn it into a vacuous ode to Tweeting, friending, texting and pretty much every expected thing we already do on our current devices of choice.

To think that the Grammys audience will love you simply because you’ve bought the rights to a famous track makes as much sense as believing a Texas audience will love you because you write a headline that starts with, “Howdy, y’all.” This is an attempted “easy win” that doesn’t come close to winning.

And by the way, Lou Reed — you’re not off the hook for this either.

Once the song was purchased and the original raw lyrics replaced by an exercise in copywriting, all they needed was a singer to bring it to life. Someone failed to realize that even a good vocalist becomes a joke when you force him to desecrate a musical legend.

But rejoice, HP fans. Creative judgment aside, HP’s products themselves actually appear to have some potential. Mute the sound and the future becomes much brighter.

In fact, by muting you will also spare yourself the pseudo-trendy “Everybody on” theme line, as well as the alternate reality that is celebrated in the commercial’s concluding thought: For more businesses and more people, only HP is leading the way.

Oh, that’s right. The HP Touchpad that won’t be out for another six months is leading the way, even though a nameless other tablet virtually invented the category over a year ago. Gotcha.

HP didn’t exactly end up with a spot that scores high marks for music. But it performs surprisingly well in the category of musical comedy.

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  • honkj

    Mute the sound and the future becomes much brighter.

    uhh, Mute the sound and it looks like an iPad commercial, there literally is EXACT copying going on… rather than any sort of “brighter” innovation…

    i wouldn’t be surprised if there was an immediate lawsuit after the launch in 6 months, because even the iCons are direct rip offs…

    and speaking of 6 months, who in their right mind puts out an add for a product that will be outdated in 6 months?

    6 months is a half life in computing… it will be irrelevant by then…

  • BruceM

    @honkjay. I noticed during the hp rollout of their new tablet how amazingly similar it is to apple. It seems like all the money and talent in the world can do nothing but (almost) match apple. And the android tablets, with their flashy new honycomb OS, I’m afraid they are losing sight of simplicity in favor of impressing the tech geeks. I cannot say how many times I have read the comment that “honycomb is a more advanced OS than apple’s iOS.”. Just because something is complicated does not make it better or more advanced.

  • mikeP


    There was a blog write up on ZDNet by James Kendrick asking the question, “Is Froyo better than Honeycomb for tablets?” The basis of the blog was that Honeycomb was actually becoming too cluttered and complicated.


  • Jimi

    Ken, how on earth does a spot this bad make it out the door? I can’t think of a single person that would go for it…

    It’s also funny that when asked about how they were going to pitch these products to an already saturated market Jon Rubinstein kept saying things like:

    Engadget: But how do you battle something like the iPad? Apple is basically the only show in town right now. We know the scale is here…

    Jon: The marketing is going to be there…