Every so often, when a company wants to pique the public's interest in a new product or service, they'll release a teaser advertisement ahead of the actual launch. Hollywood movies do this all the time, with what they call a teaser trailer. But brands do the same thing, with varying degrees of success. A teaser ad is a great way to generate buzz about your product and get consumers and media people talking about it before it's even launched. The goal is to build excitement so that when it does launch, there is an instant demand.
The dilemma with a teaser ad is that you typically can't show the product itself--the very definition of the ad format suggests you're trying to "tease" the product... not give it an official release or reveal. Most often this is because there is still a great deal of work going on behind the scenes like tweaks, touch-ups, or enhancements. In the world of film, due to tight production schedules, often times you'll see a teaser trailer released before the movie has even finished shooting.
So how do you build word of mouth for something you can't show off? One way that seems to work: trash the competition. Motorola has released a pretty audacious ad this week for a forthcoming tablet device. It doesn't show the device, give out any specs on the device, or even tell us the name of the device. All it does, really, is point out the flaws in previous tablet computers. Thankfully, they've tossed in a generous helping of humor as well. Take a look:
I love this ad. And I probably wouldn't like it nearly as much as I do if they had started their criticisms with the iPad. It's the humor that draws you in. The Egyptian Hieroglyphic Tablet, while possessing solid graphics, isn't very portable. The Rosetta Stone has support for multiple languages, but a low resolution screen. Oh, and the Mayan Tablet has a 2012 self-destruct feature. Nice. I also like how they've set this thing inside a museum, as though these previous tablets are relics.
By the time they're ready to talk about the iPad, I'm already smiling and in a laughing mood. And I think it helps that their criticism of the iPad echoes one I've heard many times: it's just a giant iPhone. And to be fair, they take a shot at the Samsung Galaxy Tablet as well ("Android OS, but for a phone.").
After all that criticism, the viewer is ready to see what Motorola has up their sleeve that's so much better than all these previous tablets. Which is how they hook you, because that "exhibit" is still shrouded in mystery. All they'll offer is a brief glimpse of a buzzing bee that flies past the company's logo, which I can only assume is some kind of hint about the product's name (several publications are saying the device will be called "Honeycomb," but I'm pretty sure that's just the version of Android this device is likely to run).
It's a daring spot, to be sure. Motorola is taking big swings at some of the top dogs in the world of tablet devices, and at the same time, making hefty promises about what they're entry into the field will offer. The true measure of a good teaser ad is whether or not it actually gets people talking. In this case, I'd say mission accomplished, because a lot of important folks in the tech-news world are definitely talking about it. Between the press and the half-a-million video views, I'd say that's not a bad bit of free publicity for Motorola, considering they haven't even shown us the product or told us anything about it yet.
This is how you do a teaser ad correctly. Humor, playful jabs at the competition, and building a genuine interest in the forthcoming product.