What Were They Thinking?: PomegranatePhone.com

December 9, 2009 by Nate Winter

This article is a review of the marketing campaign at http://pomegranatephone.com, which is in no way affiliated with the Pomegranate digital media network agency that hosts this blog. I encourage you to go through the Pomegranate Phone site until the "creative idea" is revealed to you. Afterward, I hope you'll return to read my thoughts.

So it all wraps up with the line, "Someday you'll be able to get everything you want in a device. Today you can get everything you want in one place-- Nova Scotia."

My initial reactions? Disgust. Insult. Ravenous desire to reclaim three minutes of my life.

It doesn't take a National Geographic writer, a mobile technology guru or a half-conscious adman to realize that this concept is hopelessly disconnected. Smart phones and travel to Nova Scotia have nothing to do with one another, and this campaign makes no attempt to connect them. Ultimately, the all-powerful technology device as a vehicle for allegory is purely arbitrary. The whole thing hangs on a verbose punchline with uninspired wordplay.

Stacey Jones-Oxner, a representative of the campaign, said, "Since there is so much buzz out there around the newest and latest smartphones, we thought this was a good device to use. This is especially true when you consider that the people who are interested in the latest technology are often people involved in business and tend to be key influencers." The campaign targets "those with clout in cities such as Boston, Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary. " (cited from L.A. Times)

So apparently techies are the campaign's target audience. That's a bit of a head-scratcher to me, but so be it. That notwithstanding, the Nova Scotia area of the site makes no attempt to relate back to technology, tech savviness or just an opportunity to unplug. Combine that with the glaring absence of a call to action, and you've got some pretty pitiful marketing on your hands.

Then there's this business of "Everything you want in one place." Not exactly a compelling unique selling proposition. I'm sure dozens of travel destinations have made this claim, and doubtless dozens more could, too. This line has been used outside of the travel category, too. I specifically recall Corbis, a stock photo site, using that line. It's completely unoriginal and uninspiring.

Originally, I thought this punchline was the work of a laid-off Family Guy writer, someone whose livelihood depends on the humor in random things being put together. But I was wrong. Apparently the whole campaign was created in-house by the Nova Scotia tourism board. No agency involved? You don't say.

And it takes entirely too long to get to the point. By the time the jig was up, I was ready to leave the site. From what I can tell, the actual Nova Scotia content on the website is very nice. It appears to have the same high production value, and it's actually applied to the product!

Probably worst of all, the whole concept is based on a joke we've seen and heard ad nauseam-- hyperbole that takes the iPhone's legitimately impressive list of features to a ridiculous conclusion. Here's how Saturday Night Live poked fun at the iPhone. This skit aired in January of 2007.
Scores of imitations and responses popped up. Then in October 2008, over a year and a half later, Nova Scotia launched the Pomegranate Phone campaign. And they still felt compelled to make the exact same joke that SNL did about a smart phone that makes coffee. It's oblivious and ignorant at best; idiotic at worst.

CONCLUSION
This campaign website boasts beautifully high production value and a
terribly weak concept. Flashy video effects don't make good advertising-- big ideas do. And this campaign didn't have a big idea.

It exemplifies the
mindlessness, superficiality and ennui that plagues today's advertising. It's campaigns like this that inspire legions of untalented and misguided creatives to join our industry with the hopes of developing work just like this.

If there's a silver lining here, it's my sincere hope that this pitiful bait-and-switch campaign will also be revealed as a hoax, giving way to a legitimate creative idea. In which case, I'm happy to be the angry blogger who took the bait.

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