In my day job I write and read tech news and one of my beats is netbooks. This is no hardship as I love netbooks. In many ways it’s the machine I’ve been waiting for. However, I don’t always love the way netbooks are marketed. Early on advertising people had the idea that these small laptops would make great computers for women because they’re small and cute and fit in a purse and you can use them anywhere, like the kitchen. You know, for recipes.
I suppose tech companies are always trying to figure out ways to market effectively to women and sometimes they do it well, like the Vivienne Tam or Studio Tord Boontje Minis from HP, and sometimes it’s just patronizing bullshit, like the “Della” campaign from Dell. Yesterday I came across a video that falls somewhere in-between. It’s a promo from Samsung advertising the N140 netbook. If you click over to LAPTOP Magazine’s blog you can see a full exegesis on this vid, but the point comes down to: what the hell is going in this little movie and how is it supposed to make me want a netbook?
The idea of a netbook as an accessory to your busy or even not-so-busy life is a fine one. But the video’s plot, such as it is, doesn’t highlight that very well. Brad Linder of Liliputing guessed that it’s meant to show off the long battery life (it’s supposed to get 11 hours). All it seems to show off is that model’s ability to stretch her lanky body and possibly to warn young ladies from trusting that their boyfriends will pick them up at the train station as promised. Seriously, go look (and please comment there, I am eager to watch you all apply your creative minds to the plot and message).
When I compare that video to this one Nokia did for their new netbook, I find myself much more drawn to the Booklet 3G. This video tells me what this device is, what it does, what makes it special, and even includes some heart-tugging music that makes me want it even more.
I have to wonder if the ad people who put that together sought to appeal to men or both men and women. I’m not sure who the Samsung video is meant to appeal to. Regardless, the use of models to peddle netbooks just doesn’t seem like a great idea. Models don’t ever seem to use things, they just look good. What use is a netbook that just looks good? (Yes, I am talking smack about you Eee PC S101.)
But if we must have some beautiful women selling these things, here’s what I’d like to see: women actually using netbooks in some way that shows off what netbooks are good for while providing the eye candy that someone is convinced consumers need. That way it appeals to those of us to buy tech for what it does and those of us who buy anything because hot women are peddling it.