A few months back, we covered Samsung’s new line of 4K televisions that the company marketed as being “invisible.” The new displays allow you to take a picture of the area of wall where the panel will hang, upload that capability to the TV, and then watch as the television mimics the wall standing behind it. Of course, this isn’t the same as literally making the TV invisible, but it’s a much less intrusive presence compared with a standard screen. It’s apparently rather difficult to advertise an invisible television that’s explicitly built not to be noticed, which is why Samsung has concocted one of the more annoying advertising campaigns in recent memory for its UK product launch.
Here’s how Samsung describes this masterstroke of communication:
Screens will buzz with static and interference before going blank and entirely silent, leaving viewers staring into the void – or searching for their remote controls – for five long seconds. The darkness ends with text emerging, which reads: “This is your TV screen … most of the time; a void full of nothing.” It then explains the virtues of Samsung QLED technology which has an ‘ambient’ mode meaning viewers need never see a blank screen again.
Now, for comparison, here’s a photo of how Samsung’s QLED panels with this capability look when they’re enabled (below).
This is a genuinely cool idea. Take a photo of a wall where you were hanging some art, then tell the TV to use that photo while it sits on the wall. Granted, the effect isn’t perfect — it’ll always look best from across the room — but the small drop shadow at the top of the panel does a nice job of making the rectangular outer frame of the TV look more like a piece of the art itself.
The problem is, a burst of static and interference, followed by a blank screen, isn’t going to make most people think they’re watching an ad. Instead, they’ll think their TV is broken. Calling the TV a “void full of nothing” sounds overwrought and pretentious when there’s a much easier answer. “This is your TV screen. Most of the time, it’s a black, blank screen that contributes nothing to your home decor. What if we could change that?”
Then again, I don’t get paid the Big Bucks to write campaigns for Samsung. And this is no small campaign. Engadget reports that TV’s “will seemingly be shut down in the middle of popular shows like Coronation Street and The Simpsons,” implying that the ads might air during the actual TV show as opposed to during a standard commercial break. Even if this happens, the TV show would presumably continue airing without actually skipping any time, but a move like that might convince viewers that it was going to skip time — which doesn’t exactly engender a lot of love for Samsung products. And Samsung is going to run these adds on 18 stations more than 200 times and in movie theaters before Solo: A Star Wars Story kicks off. Even better, it’ll eventually move away from the 5-second ads to an 8-second ad — giving users even more time to stare at their televisions or hunt for the remote.
There’s always been big money to be made in appealing, unusual advertising. But making people think their TVs aren’t working properly (or that the movie theater is broken) seems like an odd way to appeal to new customers.
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