BS Me 1967

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I’m looking at yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. I’m looking at “The Ads.” Two full page color ads.

I don’t know if I’m looking at a computer ad or group therapy.

The first page shows six people working in a pretty cramped workspace apparently emoting the following:

"Challenge Me"

"Surprise Me"

"Amaze Me"

"Complement Me"

"Free Me"

"Inspire Me"

"Recognize Me"

The second page has the six with that “looking at the boss” look sending the apparently mind-melded single message:

"AMD Me"

It then says the following:

We hear you. You want more from your technology. You want to be as productive as you know you can be. You want change.
That’s why we don’t believe in technology for technology alone. We believe in technology for you. So before we design our
processors and memory chips, we think about the way you want to work and the tools that will help you work better. We believe
in innovation you can use. That’s what “AMD me” is all about. So go ahead and say it— we’re listening. Visit www.amd.com.

Initial Reactions

“Did the ad agency mess up and give AMD the Apple ad?”

Impossible Claims For An Improbable Product

This would be a great ad if the people in the workspace were using abacuses or mechanical adding machines.

Unfortunately, those reading the Wall Street Journal do know what a computer is and even use one, probably have for a good number of years.

For those people, the Wonder Years are long gone. Unless, maybe, if you’re a particularly smitten Mac user, and if Apple sales mean anything, it means that those who want to fall in love with their computers aren’t a very big market.

To Joe Suit, the average business user, a computer is a necessary PITA. He knows he’s not going to get personal fulfillment from one, more likely than not, he’ll be insulted you think him that dumb.

He’d like his computer to be less of a PITA, but if you asked him how to make that so, there’s few items AMD can do much of anything about.

Apparently, there will be ads talking about battery life. This is not exactly “Viva la revolucion!!” material, more like “try to match Intel from the hole we dug ourselves with our CPU design.”

The business community has followed too many Pied Pipers over the years, people who promised everything and delivered little.

I’m sorry, I was unfair. Those Pied Pipers just promised perfect products, not perfect personal happiness, too.

Think Cars

CPU manufacturers have a tough task. If this were a car rather than a computer, they would be engine makers. All they can really do for a car is to make it go, and make it go well.

“Make it go well” can be defined a number of ways. It can go faster. It can be more fuel efficient. It can be quieter. It can be more reliable. It can do a job as well for less money. Sometimes, it can enable others to do things well.

But that’s pretty much it. Mechanics may love engines, but not too many others do, will, or even can.

“We Hear You”

Oh, really? Could I please see that flood of “My computer is too quiet, please make it louder” and “My computer uses too little power and runs too coolly, please fix that” requests?

We won’t even get into, “I need more excitement in my life. Could you please give me crunchy CPU cores that blow up in three seconds if the heatsink falls off or the thermal grease isn’t quite right?”

“And while you’re at it, could you make the motherboards that go with it a little more unstable; I need more breaks?”

Unfair? To some extent, but it’s done just to illustrate that this has not been a company exactly enslaved to ergonomics or customer feedback.

If there’s ever been a company that has “believed in technology for technology alone” the last few years, it has been AMD. Just how does 64-bit computing fit into “we believe in technology you can use?” How many typical users cried out for an integrated memory controller?

I’m not against 64-bit processing or integrated memory controllers; it’s just that the average customer probably would prefer little things like quieter machines first.

AMD certainly has not had a tradition of seeking feedback, at least not as of before yesterday, and forget about giving it. They’re a case study on how not to. It’s one of the most secretive organizations around, especially when it’s having problems.

Future potential partners ought to ask how the current ones are doing. Partnership is something else not high up on the AMD strength list.

Ask resellers about being undercut by differential pricing. Ask the same folks who has been more responsive to their needs lately, AMD or Intel.

Ask the investors who were shown a roadmap showing an imminent Palomino release one day, then found out the roadmap was changed to delay Palomino six months shortly after that meeting.

Ask those of us who’ve heard more than once “It’s not broken, it’s not broken” then later, “OK, it was broken.”

I’m sorry, but when you’ve been black, and you tell me in an ad that you’re white, my attitude has to be, “Show me.” Actions speak louder than words.

The irony is that current partners are saying that Intel has become much more responsive to their needs recently, even without an ad campaign. “Do first, then talk” is much better than “Talk first, then do.”

Freudian Slips?

You would think the punchline for this new partnership being suggested by AMD would also imply partnership. “AMD and Me” would be a natural.

But no, we get the opposite. “AMD me” embodies something that is done to you, not with you. What comes to mind is that “branding experience” the press release speaks of. Raw hide material, for sure. 🙂

Nor does it help that for people so big on feedback, they give you no specific place to give it.

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

Why This?

You might say, “You’re pointing out all of AMD’s flaws and weaknesses, and none of their strengths.”

This is true, but I’m not doing that, the ads are. What AMD is doing in these ads is ignoring their strengths, and even more perversely, portraying their biggest weaknesses as their greatest strengths. This leaves anybody who is at all familiar with the company rolling their eyes in disbelief.

This is like doing an ad campaign for me with the slogan, “The kindest man on the Internet.” 🙂

If those observers were to make up these business ads, they’d do the opposite of what these ads are doing. They’d emphasize compatible technological innovation combined with value. Not this, “Get nailed by us, and you’ll be so personally fulfilled, you won’t even go home.”

Walking In While Others Are Walking Away

You could say, quite legitimately, “What about Intel’s ads?”

For sure, they’ve had some real winners the last few years, from ludicrous Internet claims to blue people to horny aliens. No kudos for any of that.

But as times have gotten rougher, they’ve sobered up fast. You look at their print ads aimed at business people, and they’re pretty much nuts-and-bolts. They basically say, “We’re engine makers, and here’s why we’re good.”

The new TV ads Intel now have do stretch the bounds of plausibility with comments like, “Can a better computer really change your life?” but at least they try to demonstrate how Joe Sixpack’s life might be made better.

Personally, I think that anybody whose life gets changed by a better computer doesn’t have much of a life for improvement, and should be more concerned about getting a better life, but that’s a reflection on Joe, not Intel.

It’s important to note that Intel is leaving the touchy-feely stuff for TV, and is sparing the business people suddenly more concerned with ROI (return-on-investment) and saving money than feeling good.

You look at Dell ads, and you see the same thing: slices of real life for Sixpack, hard “here’s what you tell the boss” data for Suit.

You’d think this would be a tailor-made environment for AMD, but they’re inexplicably doing the opposite. The AMD ad campaign might not be so bad for TV, but it’s not going there. It’s going to business and IT publications that will be read by people saying, “Don’t ask me what I want, what solutions do you have for me NOW.”

Conclusion

I’m sorry. It’s the wrong ad campaign stressing the wrong things aimed at the wrong people at the wrong time.

Ed

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