"Look out for that Droid!" - product launch marketing that bombs?

motorola droidYou’ve probably heard that Motorola, Verizon and Google have introduced the Droid phone. By all accounts, it’s a very strong smartphone, with great integration with other Google products (e.g., Gmail, Google contacts, etc.). (Here’s a 16-minute podcast review by local technology expert Phil Yanov.) But the advertising? Well, it’s been all over the map.

The initial “iDon’t” teaser, full of what Apple’s iPhone can’t do, was intriguing. But the “Stealth” pre-launch spot was just a little freaky. Sure, the cinematography is stellar, and I guess they sort of have a point with the “drop date 11/6” tag at the end. But alien objects (“pods,” perhaps, in another anti-Apple reference?) falling from from the sky, destroying property, and prompting one weather-worn rancher to utter one slightly horrified “what in the world was that” as it opens, strikes me as an overly menacing approach. The Motley Fool has a great analysis of this ad titled “Droid’s Ad Bombs, Literally.”

Do you really want the savior of your brand (Motorola), your AT&T smartphone-beater (Verizon) and your Apple trump card (Google) to be evil? An approach like that could work for a niche product sold to a fringe group or Gen Y, perhaps. But for a product that these mainstream brands hope will sell millions to a wide range of audiences, including traditionally conservative businesspeople? It seems a highly dangerous approach. Verizon’s “There’s a Map for That” is a much more clever and brand-upholding set of advertisements.

Product launches are a great time to capture attention and break out of the box with your marketing message. But be cautious that your marketing is consistent with your brand — or you could end up destroying it in the process.

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