This Brand’s Clever Silent Autoplay Facebook Ads Look Like Little 1920s Silent Films

Home alarm brand's old-school mocking of the competition

A cheeky campaign for a newfangled home-security company is capitalizing on Facebook’s silent autoplay video ads—by creating ads in the style of obsolete 1920s-era silent films to eviscerate older competitors.

Wireless alarm company SimpliSafe and Boston agency Sleek Machine are out with three new short clips to run on the social network. They feature a grainy vintage aesthetic, text-based interstitials explaining the action, and actors delivering overblown gesticulations to compensate for the lack of subtlety imposed by the absence of actual voices.

In one, a woman palms her head, baffled by a lengthy contract. In another, a man chases his dog around the house after Fido trips the alarm in the middle of the night. In the third, a burglar—complete with a villainous mustache—disables the alarm on a home with the clip of a single wire.

All of these woes are symptomatic of old-fashioned alarm systems, the ads argue, before cutting to a modern, glossy, full-color product shot of SimpliSafe’s equipment—which, the campaign touts, requires no contracts, has an easy DIY setup, and can tell the difference between your pets and an intruder.

It’s a fun little twist on the limits of the format, adding to an increasingly rich tradition of experimentation by marketers like and American Express, who have been seeking to turn Facebook’s silent ads to their advantage.

VFX house Zero, also based in Boston, helped create the 4:3 aspect ratio look, which includes simulator projector artifacts like dust and scratches. Composer Tom Skyrme ran the ragtime background music through a retro vinyl emulator, to give it the appropriate scratches, pops and narrow frequency range to the same era of audio recordings—in case any viewers on the social network do turn on the sound (though naturally, when SimpliSafe’s own gear appears, the tune switches to euphoric piano pop).

It’s also a deft and amusingly savage way to illustrate the contrast the relatively fresh-faced security company—founded in 2006—is trying to draw between its own product, which runs on cellular networks, and that of competitors who have been around longer (ADT, for example, has existed in some form or another since 1863).

In other words, SimpliSafe makes awfully quick work of painting the other guy as dusty, obsolete and comically ineffectual bits of curio. Whether or not that’s true, it makes for good, toothy advertising—upbeat and sharp.

Client: SimpliSafe Home Security
Agency: Sleek Machine / Boston
Chief Creative Officer: Tim Cawley
Agency Producer Ben Ouellette
Copywriting: Mike Heid, Dom DeLoya
Art Direction: Alan Duda
Account Director: Geenamarie Shuttleworth
Cinematography: Nick Agri
Composer: Skyrmish / Los Angeles
Vfx: Ross Daly, Zero / Boston
Editor: Kyle Jones
Mix: Mark Wong

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