In the mid-aughts, Motorola's Razr was the it phone. Until the iPhone came along.
So, it's easy to imagine Motorola's excitement when the competitor that knocked it down seems to be faltering, and it can jump at the chance to fight back. That's exactly what Motorola, now a Lenovo company, has done with a full-page print ad from Ogilvy in The New York Times.
We saw it first on Candace Day's Twitter.
— Candace Day (@candacemar) September 15, 2016
It might just be the most bluntly critical anti-Apple (and in parts, anti-Samsung) advertising copy we've seen.
When the first generation of the iPhone came out, it changed everything. It was the rebel, the challenger. And it knocked us off our perch. But that was nine years ago.
It seems like the smartphone category is focused on incremental improvements. Display sizes increase by fractions of an inch. Cameras change by a few megapixels. And you often have to wait years for the next big thing.
We admit that we played that game too. Until now. So this year, skip the sevens. Go for something new, something different. Because, while everyone else is figuring out how to improve their smartphones, we reimagined what a smartphone can be.
The Moto Z with Moto Mods doesn't just give you a slightly better camera, you get a Hasselblad with 10x optical zoom. Instead of small speakers, you get rock JBL stereo sound. Instead of another year of 5" screens, you get a 70" projection.
Our industry was built on thinking differently. Some have forgotten. So for now, we'll carry the torch. Different is better.
Positioning yourself as an alternative to Apple and Samsung's domination of smartphones is obviously a smart marketing move right now. Both brands have had disappointing releases; Apple's iPhone 7, but also Samsung's Galaxy Note 7, which was particularly disastrous. But that isn't what makes this copy so wonderful.
What's so great is that Motorola cleverly uses Apple and Samsung's own brand language against them, sending up lines like "Think different" and "The next big thing."
"Motorola invented the first mobile phone, and while we give credit to our competitors for propelling smartphones forward in the subsequent years, the industry is currently at a standstill," said Jan Huckfeldt, Motorola's CMO, in a statement.
He added: "That’s why we’re once again delivering meaningful innovation that nobody else is offering. From smartphone screens that don’t crack or shatter to modularity that expands what people can do with their smartphone, we’re proud of Moto Z and Moto Mods because we haven’t settled for incremental updates like others. We have again changed what a smartphone can do for you. We want the world to know that Moto is back."
— Moto US (@Moto_USA) September 15, 2016
With this campaign, Motorola is looking to position itself as a seriously player again, and given the disappointment some fans have felt with both of these new smartphones, it makes sense to come out with messaging that positions your brand as an ally to those who are underwhelmed.
Check out a video from the campaign below, by Weber Shandwick.
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