Artisanal Advertising

To forge emotional connections with consumers, tech brands go for handcrafted effects

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In a nondescript laboratory, a stodgy scientist in a white coat fills a beaker with orange liquid. At the same time, a second beaker sitting untouched on a lab table fills up with an identical liquid—as if by magic.

This alchemical ad for Google Play’s instant data syncing must be computer-generated trickery, right? Wrong. It is a decidedly old-world illusion using a mechanical prop. Hidden under the table, engineer Eric Gradman pumps a three-plunger contraption that fills and then empties the second beaker through a tube.

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