Sunday, January 15, 2012

How Sprint convinced me not to buy a smart phone.

Warning - this has nothing to do with books or thrillers. It's about advertising. But you could argue that the people in the ads need to read more, preferably The Crown, so I stand by my post.

Okay, while I am far from a technophobe, I'll be the first one to admit that when it comes to communication, I'm more than a bit behind the times. My phone plan doesn't include texting, and while I'm not saying my phone is old, the owner's manual came on clay tablets. (*Rimshot*)

Will I join the 21st century? Sure, eventually I'll text, but two recent ads from Sprint have convinced me that I really don't want a smart phone. If you've watched much TV of late, you've probably seen them.

In the first embedded below, you meet a mildly pretty young woman who uses her smart phone. A lot. She spends the entire commercial downloading, uploading, checking her status, everything. She is so absorbed in her phone, she loses her dog while walking it and doesn't even notice. The only actual contact she has with another human being is when someone interrupts her while she's gazing at her phone. God forbid. The point of the ad is that Sprint lets you use your phone all you want, but I went away thinking that this poor woman needs to put a limit on how much she uses her phone.

The second ad doesn't get creepy until the very end. For the first part of the commercial, the message is that there are a lot of apps out there. "You might say there's no limit to what this amazing device can do," the narrator tells us. (Um, okay. Can it change a tire? A baby? I've seen them in action, and usually they just sit there getting stared at.) You get to the :20 mark, and you've got a shot of a kid (maybe three or four years old) totally engrossed in his iPhone. "So the question to ask is, 'Why would anyone want to limit the iPhone?'." To make matters worse, his mom is in the background, totally engrossed in her computer. Thus you have two people (not strangers, one assumes) in the same room, completely ignoring each other.

Now I'm not saying I've never planted my kids in front of the TV so I could write. And I'm not saying that if I owned a smart phone I'd never hand it over to my kids to keep the little critters quiet. But to put this kind of thing in a commercial is just weird. Aren't commercials supposed to sell us our fantasies? These seem to be road maps to our own isolation and our kids' semi-literacy. As cultural artifacts they are fascinating, but as an inducement to buy a smart phone? Epic fail.

Here are the ads:

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