From creepy to downright cool: top tech ad campaigns

Crazy Ones iPod People

Both advertising and technology are so pervasive and advanced in modern life, it’s no surprise that when the two come together, magic happens. Here are some of the best tech ad campaigns that have made an impact:

Intel and Toshiba’s social film “Inside”

These two very well-known tech companies collaborated to create four social films. This genre is a type of interactive film presented through the lens of social media. It is in most cases only distributed digitally and integrates with one or more social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

The first Intel/Toshiba social film was called “Inside”. It was a thriller broken up into several segments and spread across various networks including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. When it was first released in 2011, those who viewed it on the official website could participate in real-time to ultimately help influence the outcome of the film. The plot revolved around a girl that is trapped in a room with no recollection of how she got there. She only has access to a laptop with intermittent Wi-Fi and it is up to the audience to help her escape the room.

Three more social films were subsequently released namely “The Beauty Inside” (2012), “The Power Inside” (2013) and “What Lives Inside”(2015). Here’s the trailer for “What Lives Inside”, the latest instalment in the series:

What makes this ad campaign so good is, of course, the audience’s participation as well as how effectively the films tie into Intel’s slogan, “Look inside”. If you’re a 90s child you may already be familiar with the blue “Intel Inside” logo.

The films do not come across as a blatant advert but instead provides entertainment and interaction whilst promoting products through showing its usage in real-life situations.

Beats by Dr. Dre and its “Hear What You Want” campaign

Beats by Dr. Dre (otherwise known as Beats Electronics) is the go-to for trendy audiophiles. They’re especially known for their headphones with the now-iconic “B” logo emblazoned on it. The creator of Beats, famous rapper and billionaire entrepreneur Dr. Dre, made good use of his influence to gather well-known US athletes to star in the company’s “Hear What You Want” commercials.

In the ads the athletes use their Beats headphones to drown out haters and negative voices, to end up hearing only what they want – good music. The ads, if you can call it that, have managed to blend music and sport together in a really cool way and establish Beats as a global brand. The company has since been acquired by Apple so they must have been doing something very right with those ads! Let’s just ignore the Beats Pill portable speaker’s unwelcome appearance in many otherwise great music videos…

Apple’s “1984”, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” and “iPod People”

Since Apple’s inception, they have become well-known for their innovative and somewhat subversive ad campaigns. Their very first ad, “1984” (released in the same year), was based on the George Orwell novel of the same name and directed by the acclaimed Ridley Scott. It was to introduce the very first Apple product available to the public, the MacIntosh. The ad is set in a dystopian society with mindless people watching Big Brother spewing propaganda on a large TV. A woman comes bolting through with police in hot pursuit. She ends up throwing a sledgehammer destroying the TV and the image of Big Brother. With this introduction Apple wanted to show that their products will break out of the mould and stand out from the crowd.

In 1997 Apple released “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” and introduced the now-famous Apple slogan “Think Different” into the minds of people all over the world. There were two ads – a one-minute one featuring 17 influencers and a 30-second spot featuring only 11 of the 17 influencers. They featured black-and-white footage of influential figures from history including Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein and Bob Dylan. Voiceover was done by Richard Dreyfuss, written by Rob Siltanen, a young copywriter from the ad agency that helped create the campaign. The ad was used to draw a comparison between these revolutionaries and Apple’s influence on the world. The “Think Different” slogan was eventually abandoned in 2002.

Apple’s “iPod People” (2003) was much more light-hearted than their earlier campaigns. It featured black silhouettes of people dancing on brightly coloured backgrounds. According to insiders, this silhouette style was used as it was difficult to get a real person who would appeal to a wide audience. The earphone cords in the dancing people’s ears were white so that it showed a contrast with the dark silhouettes. This was intentional as earphone and headphone cords were black in colour up until the iPod came along, making the imagery even more iconic.

Sony’s creepy “PS3 Baby”

Despite this ad campaign being seen as creepy and weird, it is certainly memorable if nothing else! The ad is difficult to describe but here goes! You see an animatronic, somewhat realistic, baby sitting in a fluorescent-lit room across from a PlayStation 3 console. It opens its eyes and lets out a gurgling, strange laugh. Next thing you know, the console levitates up in the air as if the baby is controlling it with its mind. Then the slogan “Play Beyond” appears with a product shot and the numbers “1117”. It was presumed these refer to the release date but it in fact first came out on 11 November 2006, not 2007.

There was another similarly strange ad in the series. It involved a Rubik’s Cube being lifted in the air by the PlayStation 3 console, only to be magically solved and explode to paint the blank walls surrounding it. No-one really understood what these ads meant but according to the creators the creepy baby ad was supposed to show that the console evokes an entire range of emotions from laughing and crying to everything inbetween. In turn, the Rubik’s Cube spot was meant to show that anything that gets placed close to it would explode from witnessing the console’s awesome power. Whatever it’s meant to symbolise, it certainly is etched into many people’s minds!

“OK Google, show me New York”/”Ask the Google app”

OK Google ad Death & Co New York

Google took to the New York streets to promote the relaunch of their OK Google mobile app. Ads were placed in strategic places at the city’s most iconic landmarks. Places included the Madison Square Garden, Katz’s Deli (where that famous scene from the movie “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed) and Radio City Music Hall.

OK Google ad Van Leeuwen

The ads contained questions you might Google if you were to visit each of these famous places. For example, the side of the Van Leeuwen artisan ice cream truck was adorned with the words “OK Google, why is a sundae called a sundae?”. It was very effective in showcasing how Google’s intelligent voice search can be used in everyday situations.