Archive for the ‘smartphones’ category

HTC’s “Facebook Phone” Right on the Button!

August 15th, 2011

How’d you like to be a smartphone marketer employed by a company whose CEO is someone not named “Steve Jobs”?  No matter how brilliant your features or sleek your design, you can’t possibly compete with the iPhone’s cool factor.

Unless, that is, you leverage the power of the only brand on the planet that can give the Apple brand a run for its money among teens and twenty-somethings.  That brand, of course, would be Facebook.  And  HTC’s Status smartphone is the first and only phone to feature the familiar blue Faecbook logo in the form of a button that lets users update their Facebook status (hence the phone’s name) with the simple click of a button.  Ingeniously, the button even illuminates whenever you’re doing something on the phone that might make sense to share with your Facebook friends.

I haven’t used it, but a random sampling of online reviews suggests that HTC got more right than wrong with the design and engineering of this new smartphone.  And while it won’t be everyone’s phone of choice, all HTC needs to do is capture a small percentage of the roughly one billion Facebook users to have a decent hit on their hands.

This would likely be a bigger hit if the wireless carrier were someone other than AT&T (which it is) or Verizon (which it isn’t), as customers of those two carriers also have the option of buying an iPhone.

Still, I can only assume that whatever marketer or product manager dreamed up this innovative idea has significantly enhanced her or his status with HTC.

Windows Phone Commercial Fails to Complete the Call. Really.

November 9th, 2010

Exactly when did it become cool to ask, “Really?” to express one’s disappointment or anger?  I think I first started noticing it on Cougartown, one of my and my wife’s favorite TV shows.  Used properly, as it is in this  TV commercial for the Windows Phone, and it can be pretty amusing.  This commercial also effectively dramatizes in humorous fashion the ridiculous and even dangerous obsession many of us–present company included–have with our mobile phones.

But while this spot does a nice job of showing us the problem and entertaining us in the process, it does nothing to explain why the Windows Phone is the solution.  Presumably it’s somehow designed to make many tasks simpler and quicker to perform, but if that’s the case, show us how!  Rather than humoring us with repeated demonstrations of the problem, wow us with one or two demonstrations of the solution.

Apple ads–whether they be for the iPod, iPhone, iTouch, iMac or MacBook–have knocked our socks off again and again with simple but impressive demonstrations of their products’ amazing performance.  If the Windows Phone really is a significant improvement over the status quo, it should certainly lend itself to a very impressive presentation.  This commercial, however, leaves me thinking, “Either there’s nothing really special about this phone, or Microsoft has created one of the most underachieving commercials of all time.”

The commercial makes one other fatal mistake: it says the brand name only once, and doesn’t do so until the 55-second point.  This destines the commercial to join the seemingly endless list of relatively entertaining commercials that communicated virtually nothing to the target audience about who the advertiser is or what makes the product special.

It’s enough to make a guy want to call Steve Ballmer and say, “You supposedly have a truly superior mobile phone, and this is the way you advertise it?  Really?

AT&T and Blackberry Don’t Carry a Torch for Branding

August 25th, 2010

What do you get when two companies with an aversion to effective branding join forces to bring an exciting new product to market? In the case of AT&T and Blackberry, a  TV commercial that entertains but fails to effectively drive home the name of the advertisers providing the entertainment.

The premise of the commercial is simple: there’s a new smartphone that makes it fun to do business, and the visuals and voiceover cleverly make that point.  The new phone–the Blackberry Torch–makes a lot of sense strategically for Blackberry given its focus on the business market and the fact that it’s been losing market share to the superior “wow factor” of Apple’s iPhone.  And from the reviews I’ve read, the Torch is being very warmly received by the technology writers.

Unfortunately, viewers of this commercial hear the brand names “AT&T” and “Blackberry” twice and once, respectively, while “Torch” is nevered uttered.  (The word appears on screen for less than two seconds at the end of the spot.) Anyone who’s read about the Torch will have to be paying extremely close attention to realize that it’s the product being showcased–or not–in this commercial.

It doesn’t help that the lyrics of the background song–Buddy Holly’s “Every Day”–aren’t particularly pertinent to the product’s positioning.  The song is cute, but it doesn’t sell.

For as long as I’ve been in this business, I’ve been both amazed and appalled by how many marketers are reluctant to leverage their brands in their advertising.  It’s almost as if they feel it’s crass or in poor taste to call too much attention to their brand name.  The best marketers, however,  realize that branding doesn’t have to be boring.

In other words, if AT&T and Blackberry can combine business with fun in their product, why can’t they do it in their advertising?