Antiquities: technology in TV advertising

Antiquities: technology in TV advertising


The reason for this post was an unexpected find: on one of the old videotapes I found an ad of Windows 2000 on Russian TV. I can not say that advertising once played a serious role in the selection of new or vintage devices: more important were the articles in specialized publications and reviews on the forums. But old video clips are now of interest: they show what kind of device capabilities the manufacturer chose to convey to the widest possible audience.

This post is an attempt to supplement the impressions of the old iron with relevant commercials, so the search criteria roughly correspond to the list of devices in my collection: audiotapes and mini-disks , laptops IBM Thinkpad , handheld computers and smartphones start two thousand .

The diary of the collector of old pieces of iron I keep in real time in the Telegram .

But I want to start not with advertising, but with the full-fledged presentation of Steve Jobs in 2007, where the very first Apple iPhone was presented:


If the presentation was made not by Steve Jobs, but by some technical specialist, most likely the priority would be given to the technical characteristics. For example: “We used a surface-capacitive touch screen, and developed a new interface that allows you to manage without a stylus when controlling the device. In addition, we created and implemented ... a compact headphone amplifier with a high-quality DAC and low power consumption ... "And so on. But the main thesis of the presentation was not at all that. Furthermore, much later, we We learned that an incredibly crude prototype was shown on the stage, about which it was not completely clear whether it could survive a relatively simple demonstration of possibilities.

Instead of technical characteristics (which were obviously inferior to analogues from the then market leaders), two things were said. The iPhone is a widescreen music player with touchscreen, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough device for working on the Internet. Three in one. Just in case, Steve repeated this mantra several times to make it clear.


Then the founder of Apple walked through the “smart” devices existing at that time, selecting keyboard communicators as a target: “These devices are not very smart and not very convenient to use.” The keyboard in such devices is always present, taking up screen space. Let's get rid of her! No, the stylus is also not needed! "We are five years ahead of any device on the market."


The response to such statements was quick and sharp. Why is there no 3G? Where is the camera? But what about memory cards? Why are there no applications (and they were not until the middle of the next, in 2008)? I myself perceive devices with a physical keyboard with nostalgia, but today I want to talk not about that.The main thing is that these statements were made. Apple could not beat its competitors in terms of performance, and instead came up with a new way to interact with a mobile device. In a situation where both users and mobile phone market players are quite skeptical of a newbie, it was necessary to go on stage and speak not about specifications, but about a new way of interacting with the device. 12 years later, we know that this approach worked.


Many try to copy Apple’s approach to presentations, but not everyone is able to do it, and very often it’s about technical specifications rather than solving customer problems. Not always new devices solve these problems, and sometimes add new ones. But at the presentation you have an hour to tell you what you think is important. In the commercial you have 30 seconds, at best a minute, and you need to prioritize. An early ad for iPhones is trying to draw attention to the very fact that Apple has a smartphone, and shows its advantages: the well-known gestures were new at that time and they themselves could sell a phone that can do this.

Wait, why 30 seconds? At what point has our life accelerated so much that only a few technology fans can spend a couple of hours of time researching new products to make the right choice? This was not always the case, and the difference is especially noticeable when you try to watch promotional videos of the fifties and sixties.


So it was not only in the video. Journal advertising was by modern standards close to the technical manual. In advertising cars told about the materials of the pistons and the number of gears in the gearbox. In an advertisement for RCA audio cartridges, Victor (the format that preceded the compact cassette and now forgotten) shows how tracks with sound are placed on a tape, they talk about cheaper media, they report on the speed of the tape. Amazing Here is an example of a shorter advertisement, but done with the same attention to detail:


By the eighties, with the advent of the MTV generation, the rate at which information was presented accelerated sharply. Emotions have replaced facts.


In a well-known advertisement, Maxell audio cassettes still provide technical advantages (500 plays without loss of quality). In Sony's 1990s mini-disk device advertising, emotions overshadow everything else.


Looks like the first iPod ad in 2001. But nevertheless there is an element of demonstration of possibilities: he collected music on a computer, copied and took it with him.


A good example of Russian advertising from the 90s on the same topic is advertising a CD as a format. As you understand, such advantages of digital sound as an extended dynamic range are not described here:


Next stop is IBM laptops. I have a lot of them, and to create a complete picture it is interesting to see how these expensive devices advertised in the nineties. But first, an advertisement for IBM’s 80s personal computers, using the image of Charlie Chaplin and telling about new horizons of productivity that are provided by personal computers. You could say it all was:


ThinkPad - a better place to think. This is not really a TV advertisement, such videos were recorded on laptop hard drives in the nineties, and at the same time served as a demonstration of multimedia features:


Not all people will live to see the end of this video. This ad is much more fun:


But the most memorable commercials were in the nineties, Intel. To advertise a mass audience processor, a piece of hardware that almost no one ever sees, was a fresh idea:


Even more awesome is the advertisement of the Palm V handheld computer, in which the possibility of wireless data transmission via infrared is played up:


Fast forward to the two thousandth: a very pretentious advertisement of Compaq iPaq handheld computers based on Microsoft Pocket PC:


Brainstorming Motorola RAZR phone ad. He certainly was thin, but not as much:


In the advertisement of the first Nokia 7650 smartphone based on Symbian, no one is fighting, and in general everything is very nice. Shows the capabilities of the built-in camera. All in accordance with the company's motto: Connecting People.


And this is a very indicative advertising video of the smartphone Nokia N97 . Presented at the end of 2008, it was the answer of the then market leader on the Apple iPhone. And the advertising is very similar: the interface capabilities are demonstrated, and you might think that Nokia has the same thing, only better. In fact, the N97 was more likely a failure: the touch-interface tense on Symbian was inconvenient, illogical, and sometimes inhibitory.


Well, let's finish what we started with - from an iPhone. Many believe that a good product sells itself; it may not need advertising at all. This is not entirely true, although it is true that when there is a drop in sales (for various reasons), there are more advertisements for the device. Advertising computers, gaming consoles, smartphones, network services - this is the connection with people outside the narrow layer of fans who already know what is cool and what is not.


I reviewed commercials for high-tech products for several decades. And probably, since the nineties, they have not changed much in format: emotional, usually focused on a single feature, slightly (or severely) exaggerating the capabilities of the advertised devices. But they also absorbed the style and spirit of the respective epochs, from the naive eighties, through the nasty nineties and quite calm against their background zero. This selection shows that not all manufacturers succeed in really cool videos, and often it does not even depend on the budget. Trying to squeeze the whole amount of knowledge about the product that you and your team brought to the world can be very difficult.It is difficult to distract and try to present your device from the side. It is difficult to define and try to understand the target audience. It is important that for any product, even if you sell it only to other companies, it can be useful to do it. Explain in 30 seconds, or at least a minute, what is so cool about making your hands?

Bonus: commercials from Russian TV that seemed interesting to me.

Dandy (play all):


Advertising Vist computers with Intel Pentium processors:


Soviet-era early advertising of the Amphiton player:


Windows ME Advertising:


And of course the everlasting masterpiece, advertising fan plant "MOVEN":

Source text: Antiquities: technology in TV advertising