was going to blog today in anticipation of the Microsoft Vista ad campaign starting
next Thursday featuring Jerry
. I was prepared to note the irony of hiring an eye
shill, whose show remains a icon of the 90s
for Windows, a product that is in danger of remaining...an eye
icon of the 90s.
At least Beverly Hills 90210
attempting a comeback
that HP is reinventing its corporate branding
led me to notice its
campaign for its line of Touchscreen
. Not that ATMs, kiosks, cash registers, phones
(and soon car
dashboards ?) aren't already on top of this game. But the HP
Touchscreen PC is sleek, big, black, and, well, you may never go back.
More importantly, its expensive
So I think the TV
get it about right for something innovative, targeted at
affluent people, or at least those who think they are.
But check out the Learning
. These are the product demos for Touchscreen PCs. If any of
you have worked on a product and had to show it to an uninitiated
crowd, you know that ads, marketing literature and 20 bullet point
slideware aside, the demo is the single most important proof point to
your audience of the value of your work. Its the elevator pitch, the
turning point, the denouement, the inflexion point all in one pivotal
moment. I remember feeling this most strongly having to demo a proof of
concept website for online banking way back in early 1996 (the zenith
of the Seinfeld era!) to a London bank's great and glorious. The demo
included an animated Java applet that showed a credit card gracefully
flipping over as the user logged in. Ot at least that's what it did 7
times out of 10. The other times it ungracefully
hung the browser. Nailbiting times.
(By the way, even the worst behaved applets will no longer be
able hang the browser
, as I may have
Great examples, for me, of online product demos include the iPhone product demos
(simple and clear, though I do think the black turtleneck's best work
as garment-symbolizing-cutting-edge is behind it now). Also Microsoft's
videos for its Surface technology
(except for the moment at the end
of the meal where the otherwise happy group of diners is able, using
Surface Technology on the very table from which they ate, to split the
bill down to the last penny (and in v2, beyond ?), based on exactly what each one ordered.
Rather than, in my opinion, the more civilized non-technological
approach of splitting the bill equally. Microsoft products
could finally, I suppose, silence the age old cries of 'But I only had the soup !'
But back to HP and the TouchScreen PC demos.
Genre-wise, here, we are close to Home Shopping
. The presenters are perky and fluid. The
repartee, though inevitably forced at times, is continuous and
engaging. But they battle with a panoply of low production values. No
industrial or minimalist backdrops here, presenters and TouchScreen PC
alike battle unsuccessfully for visual spectrum with a 50s diner cum
aquarium backdrop themed with a range of shades of the new (?
corporate blue and an inexplicable red, both jacked up to
persiprational levels of hue. Two cameras ought to be enough to allow
the viewer to engage honestly with both the product and the presenter.
This would require eye contact with the presenters and a clear shot of
the product for a large proportion of the time. But sadly we get
neither. Instead we cut away too quickly from the product only to find
ourselves watching the speaker talking to the other camera. This kind
of style can work in addition to traditional full
frontal face shots
in order to create a more rounded, dimensional
view of the speaker. But here the salespeople are never allowed quite
to meet your eye. I add to my litany of complaints patchy sound quality
and the total is an exposition that, rather than let it shine, just
gets in the way of the product. The worst crime in the book, as all of
us who have ever had to do a demo know.
Demo presentations in need of much more than a touch up.