Ad-Vantage: the Best and Worst Tech Ads of 2016
2016 has been a roller coaster ride when it comes to tech advertising. There were some great ups and some exceptional lows as well. We have seen some of the really good advertising this year and well, some ads which were not quite up to the mark. So, as we come to the end of the year, here is a list of our favorite and not so favorite tech ads of 2016.
(Note: this list is based on ads that were aired in India, as that is the country we are based in)
The AD-elicious ones: Seven ads we loved
Vodafone Supernet “Be a Superdad”
Although the 4G hype was created by Airtel with those annoying Internet speed test ads and the Airtel Girl, there is one player which advertised 4G like a total boss. India’s second largest telecom service provider, Vodafone has time and again given us some amazing ads and speaking for myself, the company has been among my favorites in terms of advertising. After Airtel came out with those very direct, in your face, fastest network ads, Vodafone very cleverly took over the minds of the audience by steering the ship more creatively.
“Be a super dad with Vodafone SuperNet” is part of the SuperNet campaign by the company. The 1.01-minute ad impressively summed up the essence of the product with on-point humor appeal.
The ad begins with a mother dressing up her son in dhoti and crown for a function at school and tells her husband to drop him to the bus. But as the father-son duo walks up to the school bus, the kid’s dhoti comes swirling down. The father tries to tie it back again but fails miserably. As the kid is getting late for school and the bus conductor and the other kids are looking, the father takes out his phone, streams a video about how to tie a dhoti and saves the day!
There is the Vodafone SuperNet background music in the ad and it comes with next to zero copy.
The ad is simple, straight and talks about the product. The utility factor has been clearly highlighted in the advertisement and it comes with a humor appeal. The audience can connect to the storyline and it is so not like two people in an arena, testing their internet speed (who does that, anyway). Incidentally, the ad breaks a stereotype, showing a dad running his kid to the school and helping his son with a costume when there is no help (generally we have just seen the mothers doing it in the ads). This hands down has been our favorite 4G ad of 2016.
Google introduced a new instant messaging application earlier this year and it is going head to head with many well-established instant messaging applications like WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger. Google’s ad for the application brilliantly shows how the app works and the USP of the app. The one-minute advertisement starts with the Allo logo on a phone illustration and other phone illustrations around on a plain white background and has very smartly included the Google logo colors in the illustration.
The ad, in just one minute, gave us three different story lines and each of them showed us different uses of the app, and how Google Assistant helps you with messaging. The ad shows how the app allows you to reply to messages you have received with minimum trouble and in your own style, after learning your pattern. The ad shows how you can change the font size of the message. The ad also highlights the use of the Google Assistant where you just type @google in any conversation and search for anything on Google from exercise to videos, nearby restaurants and whatnot without closing the application. There is very funky background music in the ad as all the three conversations are very casual. All three conversations are catchy and funny. The best part is the fact that the ad simply puts the features of the app out there without actually bombing you brain with terms and instructions. Most of the copy is just between the messages and there is nothing as such in person or in voice over. The viewer inevitably has to read the copy which makes it more interactive than a simple voice over or a dialogue exchange between two people. There is a very small voiceover at the end which tells you about the application but that is it. We absolutely love the Indian context in the app which makes it more so interesting and relevant. We do not know how many people will actually switch to Google Allo after watching the ad but we know they certainly will remember the conversation in it.
Moto Z and Moto Mods
We loved the Moto Z and the Moto Mods ad for all its cattiness and let’s just say for throwing direct darts on Apple’s board. The one-minute ad took us straight back to 2007 and how smartphones were back then. The supersonic voice over (it speaks rather fast) moves along with the rapidly changing visuals and it all falls in sync. The ad obviously talks about the Moto Z and Moto Mods and how the technology is revolutionary and, to be honest, it is kind of cool.
We liked the popping colors used in the ad and obviously the copy which talks about how nothing has changed from 2007.
The ad highlights the fact that Motorola is experimenting and Moto has brought in the modular and different phones in the market. The copy is just direct and aims directly at other smartphone companies for not making exceptional changes in the device. And then explains how Moto Z with Moto Mods is different. The ad explains the products have got vibrant colors, popping music, and also tries to pull the leg of its competition just in one minute. Some people might have to look at the ad twice to understand what is going on but otherwise, we think Lenovo/Moto has got this one in the bag.
Micromax Canvas Unite
Okay, let’s just put it out there. We do have a soft spot for the ads with an Indian context. And the Micromax Canvas Unite says ‘Indian’ out loud. Although there was a Hugh Jackman phase in the middle but Micromax has always played the ‘Indian brand’ card really well.
The ad came out around six months ago and used emotional appeal to get to the audience. The 45 seconds ad highlighted a phone that supported Indian languages.
The concept sounds simple and straight, right?
But we think Micromax elevated this feature of the smartphone and tried to build a connection with the audience around it.
In the ad, the voiceover talks about how feelings can not be dubbed in English. The ad is particularly dark which we thought went well with the overall feel of the ad at some places but got a little out of hand at some. The best part? Hands down, it has to be the copy. The copy is engaging and tries to hit the patriotic side of the coin. We loved the fact how a fingerprint sensor on the phone derived the tagline for the smartphone and the execution because it all goes hand in hand. The USP of the device is highlighted with an emotional ad, and therefore, this one had to be on our favorites list. (Note: there was a version of the ad featuring well-known Comedian Kapil Sharma as well. Unfortunately, it did not ring our bells, proving out theory that celebs and tech advertising do not often mix)
Shot on iPhone -The beautiful game
It was very difficult for us to choose one ad from the “Shot on iPhone” lot but we have managed to do the impossible. ‘Shot on iPhone- The beautiful game’ ad is one of our favorite ads from 2016. The ad came out prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer championships, and the description reads, “The beauty of football, captured by fans and their iPhones”.
The camera of the iPhone has undoubtedly been one of the USPs of the device and the series of ad called the “Shot on iPhone” tries to showcase just that. The 30-second ad features the images of football fans and players in action delivers the tried and tested pictures, music and voiceover combination which is capable of moving anyone. If we look at the bigger picture, the ad is just a bunch of pictures and small videos clicked by iPhone users around the world slapped together with some background music and voice over. This is as simple as it gets. But it is this sheer simplicity of the ad that has pushed it into the list. Each picture in the ad tells a story without really getting into the complex bits. The voiceover tries to strike an emotional chord by being the cohesive force between the visuals and the music. The ad features a song “Wings” by UK hip-hop artist Little Simz which obviously can be downloaded from Apple Music.
Images. Music. Words. Just a little editing and voila!
Amazon Kindle – Because reading should never stop
This has to be one of the cutest tech ads of 2016. This one is a 47-second ad that features an elderly couple. Titled “Because reading should never stop,” the ad essentially highlights one of the USPs of the device which is the fact that one can read in bright daylight or at night without any trouble, which is a huge thing for all the book lovers out there. There is almost no copy, just very peppy background music going along with the visuals. The ad features an elderly couple that loves reading, and very cleverly shows both, day and night aspects of the story and how Kindle makes the reading experience easy on the eyes.
The ad shows the elderly couple is playing with light in order to distract each other from reading on Kindle in the cutest possible way (from switching bedside lamps to moving garden umbrellas) and then highlights how one can read any book on Kindle in bright daylight or even at night or with no lights at all. The ad in 47 seconds, builds the story, puts the product in the limelight and explains how useful the product is. And also puts a smile on our faces. What more can we ask for? This is why it definitely cuts it for us.
Not so Ad-elicious ones: Three (b)ads that missed the mark
iPhone 7 teaser
Apple has been known for creating some magnificent ads (we had so much trouble choosing a “shot on iPhone” ad ), so we were expecting something special for the company’s iPhone 7 ad. For some reason, Apple decided to do things differently this time. Well, the ad was different but not good.
Apple in its 30-second teaser came up with a very dark concept. There were weird elements in the ad which in some way represented the features of the iPhone 7. There was an owl, two spotlights which we assumed represented the dual cameras; water representing the water resistant bit; there was a male deer in the frame which we think represented speed and a boxer representing strength and other random objects in the ad.
Unlike previous ads from the company, this came with a very dark setting which was to represent the new color variant that has been introduced. But after watching the ad over all, we could just not figure out what was it about. There was not any direct appeal in the ad and there was no connection – just a lot of darkness reminiscent of a horror film. Yes, there might have been some message, but it was very complex and Apple is at its best when playing it simple.
Gionee Selfie Flash
Gionee must have spent big bucks in order to get Alia Bhatt on board for the ad but after watching the ad we suspect the company did not spend enough money on creatives.
The 30-second ad shows Alia Bhatt getting a photoshoot done and obviously, there are a lot of lights in the picture. Suddenly there is a power cut and the photographer says that he cannot shoot photographs without lights. Digestible till then. But then Alia Bhatt takes out the Gionee S6s with “Selfie Flash” and starts clicking pictures after saying “I can.”
We were like “what???”
Firstly, we think the idea itself was a little weak and secondly, this goes to whoever wrote the copy: NO ONE CAN CLICK PICTURES WITHOUT LIGHT!
If Alia Bhatt is clicking selfies with the front facing flash on then she still is using – hello – LIGHT!
So here is an answer to your question in the ad which says, “who needs light?” EVERYONE does. That’s what the selfie flash is there for. If the front flash is considered to be the USP of the device, we think the creatives could have done a better job on the ad. This was too light-headed. Pun intended.
OnePlus 3: Dash charge your Diwali with OnePlus 3
This is one of the few ads OnePlus has launched in India so expectations were high. And to be honest, OnePlus 3 broke all the stereotypes about advertisements in this ad. Ads are supposed to be short, about the product, interesting, and catchy. This OnePlus 3 throws the milkshake of all these things down the drain.
The ad is four-minute three seconds long and we do not want to sound harsh but it is boring!
Nothing in the ad talks about the product. There is a guy fiddling in between his mother and his girlfriend, and honestly, it looked like a scene picked up from daily soap. Oh, actually the ad did talk about one feature of the product which was the dash charging feature of the OnePlus 3. So, in an ad which is 4 minutes 3 seconds long, the copy talks about a key product feature for just 10 seconds. There was a storyline to this ad, something revolving around this guy who cannot decide whether to go his girlfriend’s or mother’s place for Diwali. But where OnePlus 3 came into it was not too clear. Which is why we think this is not actually the type of ad we would have liked seeing for a device as richly featured as the OnePlus 3.
Uh-Oh! Why were not these product videos ads?
After we have discussed the ads that we loved and the ones we did not like, here are two product videos (call them promos or teasers or what you will), that we WISH were ads – because they were just so goooooood!
Xiaomi Mi 5 – Hugo Barra Skip Challenge
Have you seen a global vice president of an internationally acclaimed company trying to take on the challenge of skipping ropes insanely fast? Because if you have not, you missed Xiaomi’s build up to the launch of the Mi 5. Before Xiaomi launched the Mi 5, it aired some promos on YouTube, featuring one of the most personable geeks in the tech world. Yes, we are talking about its charismatic global vice president Hugo Barra here. Although we were not surprised at seeing him (he is the face of the company to many people), what he did totally surprised us.
The promo starts with a phone screen showing a guy who is skipping ropes like one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And then Barra steps in and tries to take on the challenge of becoming a world recorder holder in skipping ropes (3 skips in 3 seconds). He thinks it is a cake walk. Well, it did not take him too long to understand that it is not as easy as it looks. He gets very agitated throws the rope and leaves the frame. Take our word for it: it is hilarious.
The last frame of the ad reads, “insanely fast and more”
The promo is just simple, humorous and human at the same time – what a promo is supposed to do in the best possible way. Although the Xiaomi Mi5 did not turn out to be a total rockstar in the phone arena but Xiaomi picks up points for some superb messaging.
iPhone 7- Design
We had earlier criticized the iPhone 7 teaser for all its darkness but we think we did not mind all the darkness in the iPhone 7 design promo. The Cupertino tech wizard swished its magic wand and provided a promo for the iPhone 7 which it deserved. The promo features the process in which the iPhone 7 is manufactured and we do not think it is possible to make a smartphone as desirable or good looking in a filmed scene as the ad did. The two minute seven second promo is bigger than most of the ads we have seen by the company but we are not complaining. The promo starts with the name of the man behind the vision of the product – Sir Jony Ive. The visuals are accompanied by a voiceover and music explaining the design of the phone and it is the secondary bit. What made our jaws drop and our eyes pop were the visuals of the ad, laying enough stress on each element of the smartphone in such a loving and languorous way that it is to the eyes what a choco lava cake is to your receptors on the tongue. Yes, we fell in love with how Apple has showcased the design of the product and yes, we feel it is definitely better than the teaser they used for the smartphone. THIS should have been the iPhone 7 ad, Apple.