Palm: I Cast Thee Out Creepy Lady Ad Agency
“The Pre is probably being talked about more than other phones right now because of the marketing and advertising, and that’s a good thing. Could the ads work harder to show exactly how the phone works? Yes, but we knew it would be polarizing people to have a woman not shout at them and tell an interesting story.”
— Gary Koepke, co-founder of Modernista, the agency responsible for the absurd marketing campaign that launched the Palm Pre
Well, Modernista founder Gary Koepke was right about one thing: The absurd ads his agency conceived for the launch of the Palm Pre really could have worked harder to show how the phone worked–a lot harder. Because here we are a year after the device launched and Palm (PALM), which was the toast of the Consumer Electronics Show when it announced the Pre, is languishing amid lousy sales and an alarming inventory problem.
Little wonder then that Palm is rumored to be cutting the agency loose, evidently having finally realized that launching a bet-the-company smartphone with an advertising campaign that says almost nothing about it was unwise, if not utterly foolish–almost as foolish as choosing as a lead for that ad a female character far better suited for a role in “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”
In the end, Modernista’s Palm campaign was simply far too short on product description and far too heavy on inane imagery (an army of jumpsuit-wearing Chinese dancers and a strange mumbling woman on a rock?) to be effective. If, as Advertising Age claims, Palm is dumping Modernista and negotiating with several other agencies to handle upcoming campaigns, it’s a wise move. Here’s hoping we see some new ads with clearer messaging and a focus on features over directorial foppery in the future.