Within Google, Nest and its chief
executive, Tony Fadell, are charged with leading the search
engine's ambitious leap into the fast-growing smart devices
industry. It's Doug Sweeny's job to sell it.
Nest's devices are sold at Target, Best Buy, Verizon outlets, even Apple
stores, but the brand is not a household name. Nest is aiming to
move into mainstream with this campaign, said Mr. Sweeny,
VP-marketing, who joined Nest in April 2013. Previously, he served
as VP-global brand marketing for Levi Strauss & Co. His worked
there earned him a spot on Ad Age's Creativity 50 in 2011.
Nest Creative Studio, the company's in-house creative agency,
designed the campaign. This interview has been edited for brevity
Advertising Age: How do you market a
Mr. Sweeny: One thing that you'll notice right
out of the gate: this is definitely not the Jetsons,
all-in-one-touch remote control approach. We're talking clearly
about these products and how they can benefit you in the home.
Really, we are telling stories and the benefits of these products
For years, people have been promoting and talking about this
idea of the smart-home. There's a latent skepticism with consumers
of, 'What's the benefit?' We're sort of re-imagining what the
products are. We talk about, 'Welcome to the more thoughtful home.'
There is a tonality in the way we're expressing Nest that is very
distinctive, both at a design level and in the marketing. The
marketing and advertising is a direct extension of the
Ad Age: The television spots are a bit
self-deprecating. Why take that route? What are you trying to
achieve in the branding? To avoid?
Mr. Sweeny: They're ironic. We have a rabid
community and fan-base. Word of mouth is incredibly strong for the
product, as you can imagine. [But] we're starting to broaden our
imprint. We're trying to reflect the way our homes truly are and
project the product in its environment and how you'd use it.
Programs like Modern Family, which sort of reflect the home in
all its bumps and bruises; the Grandpa in the spot is actually
George Costanza's boss. [Richard Herd, the actor in one of the Nest
television commercials, appeared in Seinfeld from 1995 to
We spend most of our time internally with [Mr. Fadell] talking
about the consumer journey. We're not trying to present ourselves
as a techie brand. It's a brand that benefits you. It can be the
latest whiz-bang feature; that's not what Nest is about
Ad Age: None of the advertising copy mentions
your parent company, Google. Is there a reason for that?
Mr. Sweeny: That has been the intention from
the minute that the acquisition took place. This is directly from
Google and from [Google CEO] Larry [Page]. Nest is a brand unto
itself. We have a separate management team and a separate design
philosophy. It's really our budget. It's separate.