As my worldwide cult of acolytes well knows, I quit the ad-criticism racket a few years back, due to the snowballing irrelevance of TV commercials. While it was easy, indoor work for which I was handsomely remunerated, it was hypocritical of me to earn a living off of a medium I had loudly given up for dead.
Not that TV commercials have gone away or anything. They have been steadily losing their primacy, not to mention their mojo. But they're still out there, and sometimes they capture the attention of the public. This usually happens when people really like one (e.g., the VW Darth Vader spot from a couple of years back), but also sometimes when an ad really sucks. Remember Groupon’s obnoxious Super Bowl commercial about Tibet? Oy vey.
And now a Samsung spot has earned the opprobrium of the Reddit community, which is in general the wrong community to be on the wrong side of. The subject of the flaming is the video for the 840 Evo series solid-state drive (SSD). To wit:
I didn't even realize people could act this awkwardly on purpose. It's either bad acting or the best bad-acting I've ever seen.
I wouldn't put the blame on the actors. The writing was terrible and the director must have been non-human.
And so on, in that vein, to the tune of 2,053 comments as of Sunday night. Now it turns out that the video was shot in English with American actors, apparently for a Korean and/or Japanese audience. One of the actors chimed in to say the plan was to subtitle it or dub over it, and thus the actors were directed to deliver their lines at a slower pace. But never mind that.
I am here, ladies and gentleman, to defend the ad...or video promo, or whatever the hell it is. God knows in my career I have seen stilted dialogue and wooden acting. Also stereotyping and insipid copy. I have also seen brilliant acting and clever dialogue in the service of resume reels, but not the client. But given the choice between artful cinema that neglects to make a sale and ham-fisted creative that induces curiosity about the advertised product, assuming no lies are being told and no animals are harmed, I will take the clumsy sales piece every single time.
Because it is advertising, the job of which is to sell shit.
I assert that it is impossible to view the Samsung video without at least wanting to further investigate a solid-state drive to replace the whirring, inherently fragile HHD. What part of “faster” and “no moving parts” requires Robert DeNiro to communicate?
Now, I grant you, the copy does speak down to the 99% of the world's computer users who aren't conversant in NAND flash non-volatile memory. And, yes -- “I'd love to have the Samsung SSD 840 EVO!” is a sentence that would never have been uttered by a human unless the poor schmuck actor had to read it aloud from the script. But by the time it shows up -- at the very end of the video -- I daresay the audience is already on Google searching for other information sources -- such as this one concluding that the (still pricey) technology is faster than a hard drive and has no moving parts.
The Reddit uproar caused Samsung to pull the video, perhaps out of embarrassment for not directing its marketing to the 2053 irritable gearheads instead of the 7 billion who might be enlightened by the possibility of a better computing experience.
And that's why I've come out of retirement. Someone finally used an advertisement to, you know, advertise -- and it was so weird to see selling take place, nobody knew what to do next.