HP Is Advertising Its Real, Modern Printers on This Fake, Awkward ’80s Computer Show

HP PageWide is indeed superior to dot matrix

It’s a fine line between effective ’80s homage and clumsy retro spoof, with the latter usually involving a lot of overplayed visual gags like brick-sized cell phones and VHS tapes. Cue pointing and laughing.

This new HP video, dubbed “Computer Show,” hits the sweet spot perfectly with its recreation of a Reagan-era public access show about technology, but with a fish-out-of-water spin. The host is stuck in time—stilted stage manner, goofy haircut and all—but his guests are current-day tech pioneers. Awkward hilarity ensues.

The short film, made by Giant Spoon and Sandwich Video for HP, sets up a print-off between HP’s PageWide super-fast model and a dot matrix supplied by an employee of the neighborhood “Kwikopy.”

Host Gary Fabert, played by actor-comedian Rob Baedeker, asks early on, “Why would you ever need to print anything?” and likens the HP printer to “those hats with two cans of beer.” He doesn’t quite get how a computer and printer communicate with each other, quizzing two HP executives for clues, but he’s thrilled with the resulting full-color mug shot of himself. Much more handsome than those pixels.

“Computer Show” is actually an existing parody show, but this is the first time it’s been sponsored by a brand. The series has become a cult fave in tech circles, and earlier episodes featured Alexis Ohanian of Reddit and the founders of Lumi (Stephan Ango and Jesse Genet).

“We started making Computer Show in 2015 as a kind of passion project—our passion being the early ’80s, technology, time travel and awkward conversations,” says Adam Lisagor, founder of Sandwich and the familiar bearded hipster from tons of tech ads and digital campaigns. “It was a nice surprise when HP got in touch, saying they wanted to sponsor an episode of their own. We hope to make a bunch more episodes with other companies, just to see how our host Gary Fabert will react to innovations he’ll never understand.”

Trivia: “Computer Show” is actually a faithful remake of “Computer Chronicles,” which aired in the early ’80s on PBS. And yes, that’s Lisagor with the video’s haiku-like coda, bringing up hieroglyphics, cave drawings and the Gutenberg press to try to answer the question, “What does it mean?”

CREDITS
Title: “Computer Show”

Client: HP
VP, PPS Marketing: Vikrant Batra
Head of Americas, Print Marketing, Shuchi Sarkar
US Commercial Printing Marketing Director: Flavia Paulella Kennedy
Social Media Campaign Manager, Kathleen Barrett

Agency: Giant Spoon
Co-Founder: Jon Haber
VP, Brand Management: Pierre Parisot
Associate Director Strategy: Adam Wiese
Senior Strategist: Albert Kugel
Senior Strategist: Veronica Brothwell
Jr. Strategist: Madeleine Reeves
Business Affairs: Catherine Huang

Production Company: Sandwich Video
Created by Roxana Altamirano, Tony Altamirano, Adam Lisagor
Director: Adam Lisagor
Executive Producer: Shadie Elnashai
Executive Producer: Adam Lisagor
Written by Joshua Allen, Adam Lisagor, Roxana Altamirano, Tony Altamirano, Rob Baedeker
Producer: Greg Kindra
Director of Photography: Lowell A. Meyer

—Full Creative Credits

Created by Roxana Altamirano, Tony Altamirano, Adam Lisagor
Director: Adam Lisagor
Executive Producer: Shadie Elnashai
Executive Producer: Adam Lisagor
Written by Joshua Allen, Adam Lisagor, Roxana Altamirano, Tony Altamirano, Rob Baedeker
Producer: Greg Kindra
Director of Photography: Lowell A. Meyer
Art Director: Gabe Wilson
Wardrobe: Courtney Arthur, Gabrielle Levinson-Wahl
Make-up/Hair: Regan Livingston, Andrea Steele
Production Supervisor: Dave Beglin

1 Asst. Director: Alex Comery
2nd Asst. Director: Ben Kanyusik
Head of Production: Greg Kindra
Sound Mix: George Wymenga
Cameras: Jessica Fisher, Allison Hefner
Videotape Editor: Zena Grey
Videotape Engineer: Zach Hobesh
Electronic Graphics: Jarred Hageman
Computer Music by Adam Deibert, Breakmaster Cylinder
Set Design: Chase Sata, Quill Chae-Daniel, Carlos Flores, Joshua Griffey, Larry Alberti