Smartphone as the Ring of Doom?

Paul Vander Klay

November 4, 2009

Good point and good book (I'm almost done with counterfeit Gods). However, is the ad promoting the "self" or trying to let you know that the phone "fits you" better than another phone? Oh, and for the record, the Droid is a better device!

November 4, 2009

My theory on all these devices is that the sons of Adam long to recapture the ease and completeness of communication that we had before the fall and before Babel. The device becomes a part of us and provides powerful self-expression and connection. The danger is we are coming closer to amplifying our psyche and achieving easy and complete communication without experiencing redemption first. Our capability for evil only becomes that much greater. That is why God said in Genesis 11: “Look!” He said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!”
That being said, I’d get the iphone. Every communication company is trying to knock Apple off its pedestal and I don’t think its going to happen any time soon. I’ve owned many phones and the iphone is the first phone that I have felt completely comfortable with. The large screen, the wonderfully intuitive interface encourages exploration. The HTC is still only first generation. I’d wait on it.

November 4, 2009

The human heart is a desperately wicked tree and its root is composed mostly of good old-fashioned selfishness. Any sin you can think of was, at some point, incubated in selfishness. As human beings it is our lowest common denominator. Advertisers are smart enough to appeal to it; it's just usually not so blatantly - and craftily - displayed as it is in this advert (e.g. you, You, YOU... you, You, YOU!).

As our culture, and the people therein, grow increasingly self-centered (i.e. "lovers of self") the more vapid and empty it, and the people therein, become. Ironically, the world's cure for the emptiness, is yet more selfishness.

You say that you "want this power to deeply hook people". And you are right to refer this "power" as the Ring that will "rule them all, and in the darkness bind them." Any pastor can repackage the gospel so that it appeals to mankind's selfishness. Many do. Jesus is hawked much the same way this HTC phone is... you, You, YOU.

The apostle Paul was very clear about how Christ should be presented. He reminded the people of Corinth, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. ...that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:2-5)

As a true servant of God and a proclaimer of the Good News, you have the comfort of knowing that the power to draw people to Christ is not yours to carry. It is the His. And He is quite capable or wielding it without being corrupted.

True, it's frustrating when He doesn't draw people as quickly or efficiently as Satan does. It's tempting to resort to tactics that could be labeled as "the wisdom of men." This frustration is exacerbated by the fact that "Christ and Him crucified" is such a hard sell. To the Jew it's a stumbling block and to the Greek it is the sign of an unsophisticated mind (no matter how much gourmet coffee you drink, or how much American Apparel you wear).

November 4, 2009

OK. I’ll just say it. This is a ho hum commercial. Let’s not imagine that it has powers that it doesn’t actually have. I have made TV commercials for 25 years. Successful TV commercial writers are not evil geniuses who appeal to our lowest common denominater and make us buy things we don’t want. There is no one putting pictures of naked ladies in drink ice cubes. I just googled the 10 most successful commercials of all time and what comes up is refreshing. As Americans we don’t like to be sold to our manipulated, We like to be entertained, we like clever, we like funny, we like true observations. Think Wendy’s “where’s the beef?, Apples 1984 spot, today’s Macintosh spots, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson outshooting each other, VW’s Think Small campaign, Budweiser’s chirping frog campaign and on.

Cheesy, sexy commercials are, well, cheesy and don’t work as well as clever, funny spots. Advertiser’s don’t understand that. This spot is a hipper slice of life campaign (slice of life is a mild pejorative). It says nothing unique or distinctive about the phone. The commercial will be forgotten tomorrow. There is no memorable concept here. What it does have going for it is great casting, great editing, and an expensive, high quality of film making. These are not adverting agency functions, they are all things that an ad agency can buy...and you can pay a million dollars for the best production teams which can make any idea look good. In a sense it’s similar to the movie business. Year after year its demonstrated that the highest box office pictures are G rated, well made family fare. G and PG. Yet studios keep churning out poorly made, poorly written and acted R and NC17 rated film

You are right, “The commercial doesn’t so much draw me to their phone, but draws me to their craft.” And its the craft of the expensive film production crew and director you are admiring. But this phone will not sell on the strength of its TV commercial. Whereas macintosh computers will.

November 5, 2009

I think you are completely over analyzing that commercial. Its about a phone that is going after the iPhone market. Maybe it is targeted to someone understanding of what they want in a phone, but I think its a horrible ad.
I second the first commenter about the droid though.
@rick, the HTC is not first gen. There are plenty of HTC touch screen phones out there.

November 18, 2009

Paul, I thought you were about to point out that the soundtrack to that ad is most familiarly associated with Felix da House Cat's mix of Nina Simone's Sinnerman. I made the connection between 'ring' and 'ringtone' right away as soon as it started playing. :-)

The track can be heard here:

I wonder if that irony was lost on the company that signed off on it. I also wonder if it's the creators' way of sneakily raising the same questions you are.

On a different note, as someone who has thus far intentionally abstained from getting a cellphone, I'm not convinced that this isn't a moral hazard for many. Smartphones influence how time (and money!) is spent, how people are interacted with, and how removed from the moment people allow themselves to be. All of those decisions wrapped up in something trivial that will be cursed, ignored, sat on and dropped, is in itself a rather sad commentary.

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