Assigning Blame for That Weird Palm Pre Commercial
You know the commercial: a languidly graceful young woman dressed in a flowing off-white or perhaps cream or possibly eggshell-colored dress, a verdantly vibrant green landscape and a whole lot of people in orange robes (get it? the Palm Pre "official" green-orange signature colors), who seem to be practicing on land for the Olympic synchronized swimming competition.
You can view the way-too-long commercial, called "Flow," online. It shows what you can accomplish with weeks of rehearsal by something like 1,000 dancers (though another site called them Kung Fu students), a fact which kind of undercuts the message about how intuitive the Palm smartphone is.
According to a story in the Boston Business Journal, this is the brainchild of a Boston boutique ad shop called Modernista! (don't forget the '!'!). Their web site assures you that "Modernista! is not for everyone." That's one advertising claim I believe unhesitatingly.
See, the idea is that everything on the Pre flows together, like synchronized, orange-robed dancers perfectly in step, perfectly in time, perfectly in perfection. The Pre effortlessly brings the young woman's various "lives" together: her work life, and her play life (quite decorous, by the way).
This is The Concept. I can see the suits at Palm nodding, the ad guys beaming. They get it. I get it. You get it.
But as you watch the commercial, you realize this young woman probably doesn't have kids. Or a husband. Or friends, apart from her Facebook and Twitter pals. Or maybe, despite the reference to work life, a real boss, the kind who doesn't give tuppence for organge-robed choreography and only wants to know, loudly and repeatedly, why the damn project is still late.
In other words, she doesn't seem to have a real life: the messy kind, like mine, for example. The kind of messiness that a smartphone, any smartphone, can only make worse.
The commercial doesn't stop half-way through, for example, which would symbolically illustrated another life, the Palm Pre's battery life, which Wired.com described as "puny." The commercial didn't opt for 30 orange-robed dancers to represent the approximate number of applications available from the Palm catalog. As compared to the gazillion or so available to user of the otherPhone.
The one thing the commercial gets right is using a woman as the definitive user, a woman without a role: she's not a student, not a gamer, not a mountain biker, not a high-powered executive. It is simply her, and her smartphone, an extension somehow of this gendered but undefined "life."
The Palm account came along just in time for Modernista because they had two automobile accounts, both with GM (now fondly known in Washington as "Government Motors"): Cadillac and Hummer. They lost the GM Hummer account, because GM lost...well, its future.
But Modernista! could try pitching the possible new owner of Hummer: a Chinese industrial machinery maker. I bet they'd have a good chance, because the inspiration for the Palm Pre Flow commercial came from...."the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics," according to Modernista!'s co-founder.