I’m not much one for feeling sorry about advertising campaigns that go horribly off course. I like a good train wreck.
But I do look with a little sadness on the new Samsung online video ad for its new, confounding Galaxy Gear Watch. The 2:31 spot is being savaged by the ad community as “awesomely bad,” “creepy,” “cringe-inducing” and just generally, the worst commercial of the year.
Too bad for Samsung, which was pulling into the End of the Year Depot with plaudits, or at least recognition, for once again producing videos that got the most views online. Visible Measures.com put it at the top of its list, for the second year in a row, with 491 million views for 148 campaigns. It also was the most shared social video brand advertiser in 2013, says Unruly Video.
But for many, the ad for the smartwatch, introduced only this month, will be the takeaway image for Samsung this year, and so, I end up feeling all squishy inside, like when an otherwise good and famous person gets nabbed on a morals charge, and then dies shortly thereafter. Bad obit!
It’s quite a shame for Samsung because, I think pretty clearly, the advertisement was intended to be a spoof on the kinds of commercials in which a cool guy, or a guy with a cool gizmo, gets the girl. Which is what happens in the Samsung spot, filmed with extra special bad acting and extra bad color. It’s perfectly…bad but so are a series of ads co-created by Jerry Seinfeld for Accura that are, properly, being lauded for their retro-unhipness. Irony, people! Check your parent’s David Letterman DVD collection.
Such piling on. Quartz.com said this was a commercial that imagines a “dystopian future in which only Galaxy Gear owners have sex.” And yet…and yet…for at least half a year, Maxwell, the GEICO pig whose car was harmed by hail, has been jet skiing and cavorting with the girl who once was Ted’s sweetheart, because Ted had to wait around for his non-GEICO claims adjuster to assess his own hail damage. If you can be cuckolded by a pig over car insurance, that is a dystopian existence far worse that anything Samsung imagined.
And my goodness, a catalog listing TV commercials in which women are fools for men would be the size of the pre-Internet New York phone book. Ask the DosEquis guy, or better yet, replay the “No Play for Mr. Gray”spot that is well loved for its Keith Hernandez-Walt Frazier narration of a gray- haired guy “rejected!” by a young woman at a bar until he returns following a Just for Men dye job. That makes our swinging Samsung stud seem subtle.
Bottom line, to anyone taking this seriously, they might wonder how else Samsung could attempt to sell a product that, from all early indications, would only be attractive to a narcissistic early adopter. If you can’t buy the humor it’s probably because you won’t buy the merchandise.