Campaign Trail is our evaluation of a few of the very best recent creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.
Like automotive ads before them, spots for tech gadgets follow a familiar formula: beautiful close-ups of fresh lines and metallic surfaces, with superimposed text that highlights various features. Effective, if not entertaining. So when it was tasked with creating the campaign for Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 Series tablet, creative agency BBH USA desired to try a recent approach to fulfilling the spec-heavy transient.
“Could we make a story in order that that is something people [who] aren’t just hardcore tech fans want to observe?” said Ryan Paulson, group creative director on the agency.
The resulting campaign, “See Great. Be Great,” features a long-form video that, across its nearly four-minute runtime, does just that. Running on social channels and in a more traditional 30-second version, “The Interns” follows two low-level employees at an ad agency who — on the hunt for leftover snacks — take it upon themselves to generate ideas for a Samsung tablet ad, bringing to life a series of feature-focused concepts which might be each more outlandish than the last.
“[The creative team] realized that a lot of our lives are attempting to get inspiration and move into creation,” Paulson said. “I do know as an intern, I just got here up with as many bad ideas as I could. I knew they were bad, however the only probability I had was to go for as many ideas as I could… The point is to generate a lot of them and hopefully stumble onto something great.”
After getting buy-in from Samsung on the metatextual approach, BBH was challenged with constructing a story structure that would accommodate the range of features of the Tab S9, from its gaming-ready processing power to the flexibleness of the S pen.
In the ad, device features function jumping-off points for referencing familiar genres. For example, one intern has an idea to advertise the S pen by drawing a superhero comic. At other times, one idea begets one other: The Tab S9’s true black screen could be good for a horror movie, but its vibrant color displays are more suited to a sitcom — disparate concepts which might be combined in the ad as a horror sitcom paying homage to the viral classic “Too Many Cooks.”
“The interns determining the transient as they go [is something] anyone in a creative industry or promoting can relate to,” Paulson said. “Having to suit all those things made it higher in a weird way — the challenge of how you could have to hit all these parts.”
Gen Z insights
The interns in the spot are members of Gen Z — the identical cohort that Samsung is courting with the campaign. For the trouble, BBH leaned into insights uncovered by its strategy team that work against stereotypes in regards to the generation, like how its members are maligned for spending an excessive amount of time on screens (which, coincidentally, just isn’t a problem for a company selling screens).
“They’re watching things, but they’re not only passively watching. They’re using them as inspiration for other things,” Paulson explained.
Focusing on a cohort often called the “creator generation” allowed Samsung to acknowledge its audience’s needs. Gen Z isn’t just watching movies, they’re considering up their very own short film ideas on the side; they’re not only anime fans, they’re also working on their very own graphic novels.
“It’s a way of identifying with Gen Z versus [being] preachy,” Paulson said.
Another insight about Gen Z that informed the ad was the decision by social media channels and researchers for shorter and shorter ads, some running just a few seconds. The implication is that screen-addled Gen Zers don’t have the eye span for longer ads, which BBH desired to push against.
“It’s a misinterpretation. Maybe we’re just not making enough great stories that individuals want to observe, because they’ll watch a 3:50 minute ad about specs if you could have a great story,” Paulson said.
To his point, “The Interns” has notched nearly 16 million YouTube views since its debut on July 29. Both brand and agency are pleased with the engagement, which extends into the YouTube comments.
“The first one is someone saying, ‘I believe that is the primary time I’ve actually watched a whole spec ad for a tech product,’ which is great,” Paulson said. “It’s not only the people who find themselves interested in reading a list of specs, it’s individuals who actually find it entertaining.”
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