A dancing baby throws up rainbows, a bearded man masquerades as a cartoon rabbit, emoji conversations replace text and couples are glued to their separate phones while next to each other in bed. The new ad for HP seems painfully close to reality, which is why the ending, in which a small girl gazes at a phone screen and the ending title cards “Have we lost touch with what’s real? Let’s get it back,” is especially poignant.
The spot concludes with a shot of a bulletin board plastered with written reminders and physical photographs. While it’s odd for a tech company to communicate a message warning consumers away from the dangers of digital lives, the company still has a responsibility when tech gets in the way of human life, according to Vikrant Batra, HP’s chief marketing officer.
“We really believe tech has amazing tools and we make a lot of them, but when they start to get into a place that’s addiction, then you have the responsibility of saying something,” he says. “I don’t think tech and screens should get in the way of other things we hold dear; they should connect us, not make us feel disconnected.”
The ad is the first of at least three spots in the campaign. It will debut on broadcast during the World Series and will also run on digital channels.
The 60-second spot represents the reunion of the brand with Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which first began work on the campaign about four months ago. HP had worked with the agency for 16 years, most recently in 2012. During that time, GS&P became the brand’s global agency of record, according to a GS&P spokeswoman.
In recent years, HP has worked with a variety of agencies including Giant Spoon, BBDO San Francisco and Edelman. Batra says HP still works with a variety of agencies, including Fred & Farid for its consumer business and Wieden & Kennedy for gaming.
HP’s new ad, which is appropriately set to the song “I Put a Spell On You,” showcases the dangers of digital addiction by highlighting the facial filters and body distortions that children are now growing up with. The marketer is one of many brands steering consumers away from living their lives with their faces pressed to their phones or devices. Earlier this year, Orange, a French telecom giant, aired an ad that showed a father reminding his daughter that the real world is beautiful, before giving her a phone of her own. In 2018, Coca-Cola Co.’s Vitaminwater ran a contest encouraging consumers to give up their smartphones for a year in order to win $100,000. But such ads have been going on for a while. Nike poked fun at smartphone addicts in 2016. Nearly a decade ago, Microsoft ran a Windows commercial that humorously showed consumers distracted by their phones in embarrassing situations. It may not be so humorous anymore.
Contributing: Ann-Christine Diaz