2018 witnessed the launch of a number of devices and services. Some of these rocked the year while some did not fare quite as well. And of course, along with these products, often came their ads and just like them products, some spots worked while others did not, irrespective how the product itself did in the market. With 2019 almost here, this is the perfect time to look at the great and the not-so-good tech ads that the last year brought with it. So, here is a list of six ads that worked and four that did not work for us in 2018:
Real Ad Ons: The ones that worked
Alexa loses her voice – Amazon turns on the celeb touch
Amazon started 2018 with a great Alexa Ad called, “Alexa loses her voice”, and as the name suggests, the Home Assistant loses her voice in the spot. Various celebrities try to replace the voice of the home assistant for the users but nothing quite works out. In the end, Alexa gets her voice back and peace gets restored in the digital world. We absolutely loved this ad, especially because it had such a strong and overpowering multiple celebrity presence (including Jeff Bezos himself) and yet remained all about the virtual home assistant, Alexa. We think the storyline of the ad was particularly great as it started out as a world-wide crisis and how the product, i.e, Alexa’s return saved the day.
Naya Note – Xiaomi puns on demonetisation
Taking “notes” (pun intended) from the Indian demonetization, Xiaomi created this hilarious campaign called, “Naya Note”. The campaign had ads where situations during demonetization when people had to queue up outside banks, and were curious about the looks of the new notes and all the features of the currency, were recreated. But this time for another Note, the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Note series is Xiaomi’s most popular smartphone series and much like the excitement for the new notes (currency), people of the tech world and users were very excited about the new Notes (smartphone) being added to the series – and both currency notes and the phone were in short supply initially. The ad campaign was incredibly witty, clever and very relatable.
Shor ya Sangeet – Sheer sweet simplicity from Saregama
Just like Christmas makes companies pull up their socks in the west, Diwali has a similar impact in India. The festival witnesses launch of special Diwali centric ad campaigns. This year, our favorite Diwali ad did not come from a smartphone company but from Saregama. The company released an ad called, “shor ya Sangeet”, the beautiful ad featured an old man and his wife during Diwali in their home with their dog (an Indie, and not a breed!). Because there is a lot of noise during Diwali, thanks to the crackers, dogs and other animals often get scared. The ad brings the Carvaan in at the right time, with the old gentleman turning on the device to drown out the sound of crackers and then comforts his dog. The spot had a social message, hero-ed the product and warmed our hearts. What more do you want? If we had to pick an ad of the year, it would be this one.
Share Your Gifts – Thanks for sharing, Apple
Apple has a tradition of introducing a holiday ad that is not about product hard sell but simply warming hearts during the winters. This year, the company went all Pixar and we loved it. The animated ad was not like any other Apple ad. It was not product-centric, did not give us information about the device. It only had glimpses of a few Apple products here and there but at the end of it all, was really about a quiet girl who hides her talent from the world, only to have it discovered by a gust of winter breeze. The ad told a beautiful story, subtly featured the product, and made us feel all warm and gooey. Them perfect Christmas feels, we say.
Home Alone Again with Google: super Ad Sense from Google!
Speaking of Christmas, Apple’s arch-rival, Google, also released an ad for the holidays, and even though the two ads were chalk and cheese in terms of storyline, we think, the Home Alone Again with Google ad was just as amazing as the Apple Holiday ad. The ad recreated the iconic scenes from the movie Home Alone but with Google Assistant in the picture this time helping an all grown up Kevin McCallister (yes, Macaulay Culkin!) do everything from reminders to clean the sheets to ordering aftershave to, of course, keeping burglars at bay. And boy, did it work! The ad was funny, nostalgic and the best part? It fit in Google Assistant perfectly in the series of scenes. Christmas magic? You bet!
Kiska Baja – Xiaomi rings the right number
It has not been long since Xiaomi entered the Indian tech space but the company has done extraordinarily well in this short span of time, riding to become the number one smartphone brand in the country. And taking inspiration from this success, Xiaomi created an ad campaign which went hand in hand with the position of the company in India. “Kiska Baja” was an ad campaign where the company used the iconic Xiaomi ringtone in different circumstances – a play, a surgery theatre, a courtroom. As there are always so many Xiaomi devices around (they are so popular, see?) with the same ringtone, all the people in the ads start checking their phones to see whose phone is ringing, with the “guilty” one eventually finding and silencing their phone. The campaign was humorous and was actually pretty accurate because we have seen this happen so many times.
Ads that went Minus: The ones that did not work
Moving on: Yes, move on, Samsung…really
We are all very well aware of the rivalry between Samsung and Apple. While Apple takes combined digs at the Android fraternity, Samsung is much more direct and often throws its darts right at the Cupertino tech company. In an attempt to do the same, Samsung released an ad in 2018, called Moving on. The ad was pretty much a comparison between Samsung’s flagship level device Samsung Galaxy S9 launched in 2018…and a four year old iPhone 6. Yes, you read that right! An iPhone 6, released in 2014, was compared with a 2018 device. Do we even need to explain why the ad lands straight into our “did not work” list.
Ingenius – not a stroke of genius
Not content with having a go at a 2014 iPhone, Samsung took another potshot at Apple but this time in a more elaborate ad campaign called, Ingenius. The campaign had a series of ads that recreated the environment of an Apple store with customers walking in with questions and the Apple employee (called Genius at Apple Stores) responded with not very clever or even correct answers and made faces for good measure. The campaign was supposed to be witty and hilarious but to be honest it felt a little desperate from Samsung’s side and ended up giving space to its arch-rival.
This Diwali do what only you can do – an ad for Alia
We have talked about how Diwali bought us a great ad from Saregama Carvaan. Sadly the same could not be said about all Diwali ads, and one that came a cropper was from Nokia. Called “This Diwali do what only you can do,” the ad featured Bollywood star Alia Bhatt who walked around a Diwali party with a Nokia phone in hand. While the smartphone did appear on the screen, the ad did not really do much for the phone and mostly focused on the celebrity. It was supposed to be a celebrity endorsing a phone, not the other way around, Nokia!
Happy Diwali to the OnePlus community: so sweet, but what was this about
Another Diwali ad that, in spite of trying to make all the right noises, fell a little flat, came from OnePlus, which seems to specialize in long ads that try to tug the heartstrings so hard that they forget the very product they are about. A young Indian living in Amsterdam misses his family and “ladoos” during Diwali, so his sister gets in touch with people from the OnePlus community there and people there bring him sweets. To be honest, the plot itself did not seem strong enough – most people tend to look for relatives and mutual contacts rather than heading to a phone community straight away for helping a friend overseas. Yes, there was some very touching copy, but for an ad trying to recreate a real-life situation, there was nothing really real about this one.
A special mention to the Vivo Diwali ad called, “Photo of your life” which honestly was one of the least convincing ads we saw this Diwali when it comes to storyline. A daughter who wants to cheer up her grieving father, uses a Vivo phone to reconnect with some of her father’s old bandmates, brings them over and makes him happy. But unfortunately, Vivo forgot about two things while making this ad – Diwali and the Vivo phone itself. The “lots of sentiment, but no product” approach is a luxury which few brands can afford – the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon can play in that zone but it is otherwise a very slippery slope.
Wishing you all a rad ad new year from us all!