Monday, November 30, 2015
Bring back the Dell Computer Dude - A look at some classic TV tech ads just in time for the holidays
As we enter the holiday season we will be seeing a lot of TV ads, so I thought I would reminiscence on some of the high tech classics and talk about online video consumption. There is no denying the fact that a TV spot, through the power of sight and sound, can cultivate a cool brand image. Adding “Cool Product” to your brand is a huge competitive advantage for technology products, but it is not easy do and sustain over time. Here is a look how DELL, Apple and Microsoft used TV spots to create that “Cool Image” for their brands in these classic TV ads.

DELL DUDE Ad - “All I Want for Christmas” (2000)
In the early 2000’s, the “Dude you’re getting a DELL” TV ads created a national sensation and Ben Curtis the actor became a celebrity during the course of the campaign. The ad added cool to the brand through “Being a Dude” and was key contributor to DELL’s status as the #1 PC manufacturer at that time. They produced 26 commercials before the campaign ended in 2003. After this campaign DELL has never reached the cool status again (now occupied by Apple) as they became a tech giant and the ads became less risky.

Apple “1984: Super Bowl Commercial introducing Macintosh Computer

This classic TV ad help launched the aura of the power of a Superbowl Ad. In 1984 the Macintosh Computer was launched with a legendary 60 second commercial during the Superbowl. This TV spot helped define Apple as a company and Steve Jobs as a visionary. The commercial used an unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh as a means of saving humanity from "conformity." The ad instills a sense rebellion and lead to the “Think Different” branding that Apple used for years.

Microsoft WindowsXP TV ad - Ray of Light – Madonna

The Launch of the Microsoft XP operating system in 2002 used a 1998 hit song from Madonna – Ray of Light. The commercial portrays an aura of reaching new heights in the human condition using the technology. The use of a pop singer like Madonna to get people’s attention is a classic case of piggybacking on Madonna’s popularity and hit song.  Microsoft is still using the “Reach New Heights” approach to advertise for Surface Pro Tablets and the message is getting a little stale. They need to “Cool Up” to compete with Apple.

I think it is time to step back and take a breather on how growing online video consumption will affect ad sales. There is a growing myth that this shift in demand for online video content will kick start demand for video ads and will translate into new revenue streams for publishers. As you can see in the above examples production values for TV ads are high in order to truly create an effective entertaining ad.

The spot requires more than cheap technology, it needs a great concept, creative director, writers, art directors, musicians, actors and those do not come cheap. The minimum production values required is still a cost barrier for most advertisers to use video. If the advertiser was not willing to spend $10,000 on video before, why would they spend $10,000 on a video just to put it online that reaches say 10,000 people. So I challenge this myth as it does not make economic sense.

Advertisers are using video, but not in the traditional way. They are are using in-house “Selfie Videos” to promote themselves on social media. Marketing expert and COPA judge, Doug Brownridge, says, “These “Selfie Videos” are a low cost and low risk way to personally engage with your customers through social media networks and appear authentic.”

Advertisers are now creating in-house video studios to feed the demand for video content on social media channels. reported that L’Oréal Canada has opened a production studio called "Content Factory" as an in-house resource for the creation of online product reviews, make-up tutorials and testimonials that will be used for social media. So perhaps the myth of the ad sales gold mine for online video for publishers is more hype than fact, as I don’t see the money.

While we stroll down memory lane with some classics ads, I want to share with you one more  that Coke did in 1971. “I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” to wish you happy holidays.

Coca Cola Commercial - I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony) – 1971

- Martin Seto
About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

Most Recent Blog Comment
Lorene Shyba says:
Full of terrific information, Thanks!...
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