Toshiba skewers a certain hype-driven West Coast tech-topia in the brand's new animated spot, "Sillycon Valley." Packed with fun visual gags, the spot from goodness Mfg. takes us to a highly caffeinated zone of hyperactive technophilia that boasts computer goggles for canines (doggles!), WirelessWater (the bottles are WiFi hotspots), Asimo-type robots on public-works details and 5-D printers that inadvertently summon slimy tentacled monsters. A java-drone flying Starbucks colors soars above the local wind farm—and almost everyone's eyeballs are glued to their smartphones, if they're not hip enough to have Google Glass. "Animation is a great way to deliver over-the-top humor," goodness Mfg. ecd Tom Adams tells AdFreak. "It immediately transports the audience into another world where they don’t take things too seriously." Of course, tech excesses have been parodied to death—in HBO's Silicon Valley and just about everywhere else—so Toshiba's not doing anything especially innovative. Plus, this is a commercial, ultimately promoting the Encore 2 tablet for the back-to-school season, so the satire can't bite too deep, lest it risk being branded as hypocritical. All that said, the spot hits just the right tone. It's snarky, but not too mean-spirited, with a look that fits the tech biz to a T—busy yet sleek, over-bright and self-consciously befuddling. The commercial feels kind of like a spoofy segment on The Simpsons or Family Guy, which makes sense, as Friends Night, the studio that produces Fox's Animation Domination HD programming, worked on the project. "Because they come from a TV background, they were able to move quickly, which was very important to us," Adams says. "We were able to complete the project from concept to the final approved version in about six weeks." Overall, the effort seeks to position Toshiba as "providing products and services that offer solutions, not empty promises," Adams says. (That's also the thrust of "Unleash Yourself," a live-action spot with a cartoon-y feel that shows Satellite Pro laptops magically morph into useful or fun items in various situations. You can watch that one below as well.) "Today’s savvy consumers are constantly questioning the practicality of new technology," Adams says. "We decided to have fun with this shift in attitude [emphasizing that Toshiba makes devices to] meet the real-world needs of today's consumer." Laptops and tablets are great, but I'll take a pair of those "smart-scissors" revealed during the animated extravaganza's crazed climax. It looks as if they'd cut through the clutter—and just about anything else.
West Coast fans of Bob’s Burgers take note: H. Jon Benjamin and the rest of the cast are bringing their inspired brand of comic instability to a town near you.