If nothing else, at least Dell is consistent. Change agencies, change marketing chiefs, change CEOs … the end result is always the same: ads that break new ground for tedium.
This time it was a Herculean effort. This isn’t just a new ad — it’s the culmination of a 10-month journey. Deciding it was time to shake up its marketing effort, Dell conducted an all-out agency search, went through all the presentations and evaluations, selected a new agency for each of their market segments, and finally released the hounds to do their creative magic.
After all that, the first work from the new consumer agency, Canada’s Sid Lee, finally appears.
Maestro, hit the Play button.
My goodness, where do we start.
Dell explains that the theme of this new campaign is More You. This is icing on the cake after they recently introduced their new brand theme line, The power to do more, along with that other theme line, You can tell it’s Dell. One can never be too thin, too rich or have too many theme lines.
In a WSJ article about this campaign, Dell’s chief consumer marketer Paul-Henri Ferrard explains, “We realized it was more important to connect more emotionally with customers.”
Dell’s emotional copy goes basically like this: “It has an HD webcam, killer audio… Get this loaded Inspiron 15R now for only five-ninety-nine ninety-nine, powered by the second-gen Intel Core processor family.” That’s connecting, Dell-style.
The Festival of Emotion continues with the following product visual that remains on the screen for about six seconds:
In still-frame form, you can savor things on this screen that the human eye could never absorb in real time.
I’m disappointed that You can tell it’s Dell isn’t in here, because both of their other theme lines are. Although I probably shouldn’t count The power to do more, because you practically need an electron microscope to read it. This is a tribute to the staying power of the Dell marketing person who insisted that this line be present.
Dell’s own press on this campaign trumpets the campaign theme, More You — yet in this entire spot, those words only appear as a throwaway at the bottom of the product screen.
I will assume that More You is meant to describe how Dell computers make it easier to be you. I can only assume — because there is scant evidence of that in this ad. After the basketball player states that his Dell “helps me try new moves, on and off the court,” all we get is the Goofy Dance and a list of product features.
Trying to decipher the meaning of it all, I’d say that switchable lids are supposed to be the big deal here — though that feature is merely shoehorned in with all the clutter. It would never dawn on Dell to create an ad about one feature alone, as Apple did with the iPad Smart Cover. Better to just cram every possible selling point into an ad.
We are assured that other ads in this campaign will follow. Given the brief synopses that appear in various articles, Dell’s imagination is running wild.
In one spot, a young Dell user explains how technology allows her to “indulge her passion for Justin Bieber.” In another, a grandmother shows how a Dell tablet lets her stay in touch with her grandchildren. Will wonders never cease!
Interestingly, Dell actually claims that this campaign positions them as a “lifestyle” brand. In their dreams, maybe. This ad is simply a moving-image version of what Dell normally does badly — catalog advertising. What we get is an unimaginative image of a person with lots of specs sprinkled about, with the price being given the most prominence. This is Dell’s lifestyle, not the customer’s.
I will say this: it’s a remarkable achievement when the 10-second leader at the start of your ad is more engrossing than the ad itself.
In most companies, ads like this are reason enough to fire someone. Oh, right. They already fired their agency, didn’t they. This is from the new agency. Never mind.