The Droid Does…Help A Little

I know, I know. With all the talk about the Droid vs. the iPhone, I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about it. But what kind of advertising columnist would I be if I completely ignored this raging advertising battle between AT&T/Apple and Verizon/Motorola?

Joining Microsoft in its efforts to bring the technology God that is Apple down, Verizon has decided to take a different route this time around. I’m sure we’ve all seen the “There’s a map for that” ads that counter the “There’s an app for that” campaign (and if you haven’t, refer to the YouTube at the bottom of this post). The direct attack is clever, witty, and effective. The Droid, however, has gone about a different approach.

Not only is the approach completely different, the target audience is too—a good way to get around the Apple market.

The ads are targeted towards tech-savvy, gadget-buying, sci-fi appreciative males. As opposed to the quirky tone of the Apple ads, the Droid campaign is dark, heavy, and dangerous, touting the tagline, “In a world of doesn’t, Droid does.”

What does the Droid do, exactly? That’s also featured in the commercial, one of the only similarities the Droid commercials have to Apple’s iPhone commercials. Voice activation is one of the most heavily advertised features of the Droid, in addition to features such as taking clear pictures in the dark—something the Droid claims that the iPhone doesn’t do.

The Droid is a Google-backed interface, claims to be highly intuitive, and is Verizon’s attempt to bring the iPhone down.

Problem? Their target market. Is it a viable market?  Should they have tried to keep closer to the witty, quirky essence of Apple? Or was this deviation the reason they got noticed?

I know when I first saw the Droid commercial on TV, my friends and I was thoroughly confused. So what did we do? We went to the website listed at the end of the 30-second spot. And when we got to the website, all we saw was, “It’s Coming. November 2009.”

Anticipation built? Check.

For weeks after the initial exposure to the commercial, I saw ads everywhere—billboards, online, on TV, in magazines. I couldn’t get away from the brand.

Effective frequent exposure? Check.

But upon the day of release on Friday, Nov. 6?

I was not waiting to get a new phone in front of Verizon. I didn’t know the release date, actually. The first I heard about it was on my Twitter-feed when AdAge tweeted about it.

In fact, Verizon stores were pretty quiet that day.  Except for the Verizon store in SoHo and the Best Buy on Houston Street, and a few other retailers across the nation, where they ran out of Droids by mid-morning, the Verizon home front was fairly…stagnant.

The campaign was effective, it was clever, it was good. But the execution during the most crucial days leading up to the drop date? Unchecked.

The Droid had a good chance at defeating the iPhone for Verizon, but its lack of anticipation in the days leading up to November 6 hurt Droid. This isn’t to say that it won’t take some iPhone users away from AT&T. It will. It has. But it won’t take as many as Verizon had originally hoped.

Still, it’s a valiant effort from a company whose reputation was suffering from the blows AT&T dealt. The Droid has salvaged Verizon, as the “There’s a map for that” campaign has helped to do too.

In times of economic recession like these, when people aren’t thinking about new cell phones as much as they have in the past, I think Verizon will take salvaging if it can’t get complete domination. Baby steps.

About Melody Tran

Melody Tran (COM '10) writes "Ad Avenue," an advertising column, for the Quad.

View all posts by Melody Tran →

One Comment on “The Droid Does…Help A Little”

  1. Completely agree with you Melody. The ads were very alluring and they hit the media world hard. Although I am not interested in buying a smart phone, I’m glad that Verizon (my network) now has a phone very similiar to the Iphone, if I want to get one.

    Plus, “There a Map for that” ads are hilarious.

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