As simple specs and sex appeal have lost their allure, the tech world’s cutting-edge creatives have found ever-more inventive ways of selling their wares. Yet from the silly to the plain surreal, sometimes even the greatest tech can sell itself short.
For every great tech advert that perfects the art of selling you a gadget you never knew you needed, there are a veritable host of campaigns that failed to strike a chord with the general public. Here's our pick of the worst offenders.
1. HP and Beats Audio, 2011
We’d love to see the sleek factory that builds Beats By Dre tech, such is its celebrity cred and bling reputation. Except HP apparently doesn’t make laptops in factories – it makes them in a spaceship, with Dr Dre chained to its epicentre. Course it does. These days, the hip-hop master is more machine than man, forced into Darth Vader’s fencing mask to churn out notebooks, one by painstaking one. Every four hours he’s allowed 30 seconds of “no mask time” to catch a few gasps of recycled oxygen, then it’s back to work. But if it means we get stylish laptops to show off on the Tube next to our sexy cans, keep him there.
2. Pole Position, 1982
One of the most overblown adverts for a computer game ever, this big-budget effort (well, for 1982) saw a nerdy family scooped up and dumped into racing cars, as all manner of explodey madness surrounded them. But when this live action was spliced with footage from the game it highlighted how poor the graphics actually were. As the game’s strapline promised, “It’ll leave skid marks on your soul.” Eww.
3. Commodore 64, 1985
“Are you keeping up with the Commodore?” Strangely, in the grainy 80s, everybody wanted to. The extreme musical happiness on show borders on the cultish, but cutaways to shots of people at a theme park only draw attention to how unlike a theme park the alternating shots of people coding are.
4. Apple Mac Performa, 1994
The Apple of the 21st century is a slick, marketing machine, but that hasn’t always been the case. It thought the best way to get you to splash your cash on the Performa was to have a besuited man stand in a room, pleading at length with you to buy its product. Not convinced? What if they then showed someone trying and failing to use a Windows PC, due to its unfathomable complexity? Still no? But look… the man’s got a nice suit on…
5. Piracy is a crime, 2007
You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a movie. But you might commit GBH on whoever came up with this headacheinducingly shot, wincingly patronising drivel, were you to meet them.