It was a big week for smartphones with Apple bestowing the majesty of the iPhone X into the outstretched arms of its loyal flock, while both Samsung and Google launched ads that took aim directly and indirectly at the cult of Cupertino.
Google took the high road with a fun spot that pinched Apple’s fast-paced, quippy narrator product demo style to answer every single question about its Pixel 2 phone that starts with “Can it . . .?”, all to illustrate just how closely tied the hardware is to the search giant’s vast software and app ecosystem. Meanwhile, Samsung went with an equally fun spot chronicling the dissolution of a once torrid (product) love affair. It’s all very Cola Wars 2.0. Onward!
Samsung “Growing Up”
What: The new ad for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.
Who: Samsung, Wieden+Kennedy Portland
Why we care: This is the descendant of the now-classic Galaxy 3 spot (from 72andSunny) that for the first time aimed straight at Apple and hit a bullseye. The reaction was predictable–people love a good fight–and helped Samsung gain some much-needed brand ground on its biggest rival. Some have voiced their preference for taking the high road, a la Samsung’s work with Casey Neistat, but sometimes going low is too fun to pass up.
Google Pixel 2 “Ask More of Your Phone”
What: A new launch ad for Google Pixel 2.
Who: Google, Droga5
Why we care: As I said in the intro, this one feels like Google’s using Apple’s own quick hit/quirky narrator style against it. Not that recent iPhone ads reflect it, but one of the best in recent years was 2015’s 6s ad featuring the vocal stylings of Lake Bell in a fun-yet-informative ad. Pretty much exactly how I’d describe this one, minus the Lake Bell part.
The North Face “Imagination: Tom Wallisch”
What: A short film from the outdoors brand that recently won Best Film in the snow sports category at the Banff Film Festival.
Who: The North Face, Sherpas Cinema
Why we care: A very cool film that aligns perfectly with the brand and harks back to the late JP Auclair’s epic 2011 part in Sherpas Cinemas’ All.I.Can.
What: Amazon’s new holiday-themed ad that turns its retail-slaying e-commerce operation into a Bezos version of Santa’s workshop.
Who: Amazon, Lucky Generals
Why we care: The debate and discussion around Amazon’s ongoing effect on retail continues, but here the brand takes that issue and creates a spot that turns one of the e-commerce giant’s biggest downsides–its lack of emotion and personality, as compared to in-person human interaction at a store–into a positive, thanks to a few million anthropomorphic cardboard boxes.
Cost Plus World Market “The Performance”
What: A new holiday ad that’s odd focus on llamas gets tied nicely back to the brand.
Who: Cost Plus World Market, barrettSF
Why we care: On the surface of it, this is just another incredibly sweet holiday ad from a retailer looking to use our emotions to spark purchase intent. Right? OK, but it’s done very nicely–who doesn’t like a little boy playing trumpet to a herd of adorable animals? But the brand ties this in to actually selling the llama ornament in the spot, as well as a tote bag with proceeds going to VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, that funds music education programs.