Droid Doesn’t Inspire [Opinion]

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Last week we saw the publication of three new commercials from Verizon for the Droid Bionic. After watching each commercial, I found myself wondering more about who Verizon thinks their demographic is than whether or not I should pick up a Bionic. That wondering led me to do some searches for commercials from competing products – how do Verizon’s Droid ads compare with advertisements for other products?

In my research I saw a lot of commercials. I considered showing off some webOS commercials, but until we see someone buy webOS I don’t think Rubinstein’s baby is relevant. I even took some time to watch a couple Blackberry commercials, but I honestly don’t know anyone who is in the market for a modern smartphone who would even consider a Blackberry (the message of this commercial really shows how RIM just doesn’t get it). That said, I think Windows Phone 7 and iOS both offer some legitimate competition against Android.

As enthusiasts, we want to see our favorite products represented well. As I watched the commercials below I began to conclude that Verizon either thinks poorly of the demographic for its Droid line of phones or it really thinks that women fighting robots sells. Read on to see how Verzion’s Droid campaign stacks up against the competition. 

If you don’t have an iPhone…


In this iPhone advertisement, Apple highlights one part of their device: the display. For all intents and purposes, the display is the most important part of a modern smartphone. Instead of talking about the resolution or the inches, Apple just shows all the ways that their display is used: for photos, movies, maps, emails, and videos. The message is clear, simple, and easy to relate to. Why should I get an iPhone? Because its display is the best for all of the things that I do on my phone from work to travel to leisure activities.

Now there’s this. 


In this commercial Apple once again shows off all the things you can do, appealing to a massive demographic. Apple shows how things like reading the newspaper or looking at the stars have been changed by their product. Apple’s insistence that their product allows us to do the things we love in new ways also leaves a feeling that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves through the iPad. I can connect with people, interact with the stars, watch lectures, and read a book I love from one device. The ad is trying to make the viewer feel welcomed into something more than themselves through this device.

Don’t Be That Guy


In this Windows Phone 7 advertisement, Microsoft emphasizes the idea that their phone is so simple, easy to use, and connected that this particular dad can take care of what he needs to do and be a good dad. The second dad, aptly titled “that guy,” is someone we’ve certainly seen. Heck, maybe we’ve even been that guy from time to time. The message of the commercial, however, is simple and tangible: if I want a phone that helps me get my stuff done quickly so I can get back to what matters, this is it. Now, regardless of how well Windows Phone 7 delivers on that promise, I have to say that’s a compelling argument. Even more than Apple’s commercials, this Windows Phone 7 ad highlights the person I don’t want to be and is selling me much more than a phone. Microsoft is saying that this phone will help me be the dad I want to be.

Droid Bionic “Rooftop” Commercial


Now compare those three commercials to the “Rooftop” commercial above. Does it show off a feature of the phone like the others? Kind of, but in a weird, alienating way. The woman using her desktop computer is presumably in the future, using some futuristic OS and working on some sort of satellite designs. For some reason she decides she wants to look at the same images on a smaller screen outside (does anyone ever get the urge to look at the same thing on a smaller screen?), so she goes to her roof and looks at her slides. Now, is this a cool feature to highlight? Absolutely. Many professionals need to have access to all of their data on the go, but I wonder if anyone is getting that message? Can anyone say that they feel like this commercial is showing them what they can really do with the Bionic?

This commercial reminded me of the commercial above for the Droid 2. When this commercial came out I really liked it. The commercial showed off how the Droid 2 had a superior keyboard to the original Droid and it showed how the keyboard made replying to emails that much quicker and easier. Also, it made me want to have robot arms. Robotic appendages aside, this commercial is set in a cold, drab world like many of the other Droid commercials.

When I watch the iPhone commercial (after I finish sighing over the “If you don’t have an iPhone…” line), I feel like I’ve been shown how this phone helps me connect to my world in multiple ways. When I watch the Windows Phone 7 commercial, I feel like a Windows Phone will help me be a better person because of its efficiency, not more detached. I don’t get that feeling with the Droid commercials. The Droid commercials are cold, distant, and remain insistently trapped in another world. The commercials sometimes show me features that I want, but they’re not appealing to my higher desires.

I want a good email experience and I’d like to be able to connect to my files from my phone, but I want so much more than that. I want to be able to connect with the people I care about with my phone. I also don’t want my phone to get in the way of my life. Apple seems to understand that people want to see what their products can do, but to also be inspired by their products. Apple wants people to believe that they’re somehow a part of something bigger than themselves. I think that’s an attractive, enticing message. Microsoft takes that idea a step further with a drastically more personal message – our product will help you be a better person. Granted, the rhetoric that Apple and Microsoft are spewing is astoundingly inflated, but at the same time, its inspiring. It makes me care about the phone I get that much more, because at the end of the day, it’s just a phone. I don’t want my phone to control me, I want my phone to help me take care of things so I can be in the real world with my family and friends.

For some reason, Verizon is convinced that their Droid line of phones is for dark, cold, and disconnected people. People who buy a Droid care about email, keyboards, and accessing their desktop’s files according to Verizon. The Droid advertising campaign is disconnected from reality in such a way that it alienates the viewer. Imagine seeing a Bionic commercial with a parent recording their child’s birthday party or friends video chatting. Imagine a commercial where the list of specifications isn’t about how powerful the phone is, but how it helps you get things done so you can get back to life. Imagine a commercial that makes you proud to own a phone that helps you get back to the things that really matter.

Do you think Verizon’s Droid campaign would improve with an inspiring message? Would you feel more compelled to buy a device that promises to help you be a better person, not a cyborg? Do you want to see the best Android phones that Verizon offers be typecast as robotic beasts or as devices that help us stay connected? Let us know what you think in the comments.



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