CyberCritique: HP just as cool as ever, but ads skip vital point

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MARKETER: Hewlett-Packard Co.


CRITIQUE: We like cool stuff. We like banner ads that draw us in using something to play with, rather than barking some boring message about how to get a better credit card. We, in general, like what HP has done in the past several years with its advertising.

We like HP banner ads in the same way we like Seagram Spirits & Wine Group's Absolut ads even though we don't drink much vodka. We like this work the same way we like Mountain Dew spots -- even though we take part in few sports, extreme or otherwise, and consume our caffeine in less-neon formats.

In other words, we have a strong feeling of brand loyalty to the company's ads, if not necessarily their products.

In HP's case, this is partially due to the fact that their ads, while cool and innovative, don't always tie in a strong product message. HP's 1997 Pong banner had some small scrolling text about the Mopier copier it offered at the time. Another promotion -- in which HP had Web publishers remove the color from their pages did indeed demonstrate how great color printing is -- so the Cyber Critique staff rushed out... and bought an Epson (for valid, product-related reasons).

But the ad running on provides no clue whatsoever. It's a banner that allows you to change variables in a complex equation and watch the results graph in real time in bright, pulsating colors. It's a fun toy, but fails to deliver any message except that HP makes cool banner ads. If you're in the business of making cool ads, that's fine. But even in a branding ad like this one, some connection needs to be made between company and product.

WHO CREATED IT: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

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