Over The Counter Culture

A Word On Our Sponsors: Dragon Naturally Speaking

By: Kelly Budish

If you are looking for a Super Bowl commercial that is unforgettable and will make you laugh out loud, then the Ben Consoli directed advertisement, Dragon Naturally Speaking, is not for you. Although it does a good job of demonstrating the product’s capabilities and appealing to a wide demographic, it is not as humorous as a Go Daddy: Perfect Match commercial that portrays a geek kissing a super hot chick. Instead the commercial focuses on members of an ordinary family simply speaking into the computer, asking for different tasks to be done for them. The commercial effectively reflects how dependent Americans have become on technology and uses snippets of light comedy to convey this message.

The Super Bowl is known for its high concept, often hilarious, commercials, but Consoli’s Dragon Naturally Speaking entry came up short. Although Consoli attempts to use humor with his portrayal of the young son calling a girl he likes or the Aunt talking about a depressed cat, he is simply trying too hard to be funny. When in competition with Super Bowl ads that portray ridiculous situations such as a pug attacking a man for Dorito’s, Consoli’s commercial simply does not compare. This is not to say that his commercial is ineffective, it just won’t make you laugh out loud or “wow” you as many Super Bowl commercials do. Instead, the technical aspects, such as its sales technique and audience analysis, shine through and are ultimately what makes the commercial worth your time.

In terms of selling the product, Consoli does a terrific job outlining Dragon Naturally Speaking’s voice recognition and assistant capabilities. Each character enters the room and faces the computer loaded with the product and accesses it in a variety of ways that demonstrate how Dragon Naturally Speaking assists the user in answering any question or solving problems. It is not a commercial like the Cadbury ad, which involves two kids wiggling their eyebrows around and leaves you wondering, what the heck does this have to do with milk chocolate? Although watching children bounce their eyebrows to music for fifty seconds may be entertaining, the content is in no way relevant to the product, just memorable. It is also vital for the audience to form a desire to buy the product, and I know I did not buy Cadbury milk chocolate upon viewing that particular commercial.

Often, a comedic gag does not effectively create the desire to purchase what is being advertised, especially when it comes to technology. An advertisement for technology generally benefits if people can clearly see what the product is and how it works. This technique is more effective because electronic products are usually more expensive, so an audience will not “shell out” their hard-earned cash for a product they don’t understand or are unable to decipher its purpose. This demonstration technique is used in other commercials that sell technology.

One could even say that Consoli borrowed his idea from companies such as Apple or T-Mobile. For instance, Apple’s Siri commercials often portray a character commanding Siri to do various tasks for them such as set a reminder or search for a restaurant. Consoli also mimics the T-Mobile family plan advertisements where they often depict family members complaining about what he or she needs the phone to do. Consoli’s family oriented characters similarly are shown directing the device to do specific jobs for them. Therefore, Consoli’s commercial, though not original, is a successful reinvention of other companies’ previous sale techniques.

Another approach Consoli adopts is the cross generation appeal of a product. Consoli has characters from different age groups use the product in different ways that are ideal to a particular age group, thereby illustrating the broad interest for the product. Since technology can be intimidating to older generations, they need a commercial, like Consoli’s, to effectively demonstrate how each person would realistically use the product in their everyday lives. For instance, the younger characters are shown asking it to update their Twitter and Facebook while the older characters instruct it to email a friend. This is effective because often technology is associated with the younger generation. By showing parents and older people using it, viewers can see that this is a product for everyone, and more specifically the family. Since the commercial is being played during the Super Bowl, a family event, it makes sense that it conveys different family members using the product because this allows it to appeal to a wide demographic.

Although watching characters dictate tasks to a computer may not be the most visually stimulating or funny Super Bowl commercial, I finished watching the advertisement wishing I had the product. The advertisement provided light humor, which was appreciated, but its sales techniques are what made it worth including among the most effective Super Bowl commercials. Besides, not every advertisement can be amazing and original, right? Commercials are created to make the viewer want the product, and this endorsement did exactly that.

What they say: “What can I say?”

What it means: Technology is vital. Who has the time to type stuff out when you could speak it?

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This entry was published on April 17, 2013 at 9:40 am. It’s filed under Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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