Google is making better Apple ads than Apple.
Apple's latest slate of TV ads may have had a chilly reception, while Google seems to be grabbing a page from its rival's historical playbook in a new TV spot for its tablet Nexus 7 by showing how a tech product can make life better.
Google's "Camping" ad debuted on July 25 and has since aired during the Olympics broadcast. It shows a father and his young son on a camping trip, where they use a Nexus 7 as a compass, a flashlight, to play chess in their tent when it's raining, and to read the novel "The Little Prince" before going to sleep. The minute-long ad was the most-effective TV spot to break in the last week and the most-effective technology spot in the last 90 days, according to the ad research firm Ace Metrix, which measures effectiveness of ads by showing them to 500 consumers and scoring them in areas such as persuasiveness and likelihood of watching again. (It scored 662 out of a possible 950.)
Google is again adroitly pulling at the heartstrings with "Camping," as it has in recent TV spots such as the Chrome browser showcases "Dear Sophie," where a father digitally chronicles his daughter's early years, and "Coffee," where a man asks his ex for another chance. But "Camping" scored particularly high because of its demonstration of product utility, a typical strength of Apple's, according to Jonathan Symonds, Ace Metrix's exec VP-marketing.
"Google has taken their strong emotional appeal and married that with strong product demonstration," Mr. Symonds said.
In recent years, Apple's ads have relied on demonstrating product functionality, especially in spots for the iPhone where the phrase "There's an app for that " first surfaced. That concept extended to the latest iPhone 4S ads, where Zooey Deschanel, Samuel L. Jackson, John Malkovich and Martin Scorsese show consumers how to use the voice-controlled personal-assistant function Siri. (The ads were widely panned for being elitist and out of step with the 99%, but Ace Metrix contended that consumers liked them when they debuted in the spring.)
However, the latest Apple ads focus on a service instead of a product, showing an eager-beaver Genius Bar employee assisting hapless consumers on a plane, on the street and in the entrance to his apartment. They've been a "mixed bag," according to Mr. Symonds, who said the ad taking place on the street scored in the bottom quintile, while the one on a plane was in the upper-middle quintile.
Meanwhile, Google's "Camping" is its first hardware TV ad since 2010, when it aired a spot to promote the Nexus One phone. Mullen, San Francisco, is the agency behind it.