November 30th, 2006
Google doesn't make many mistakes. Google controls its image fiercely.
And according to a new radio spot, Google wants to get in your pants.
It's the latest marketing campaign from Helio, Earthlink's sassy new partnership with a South Korean wireless giant. In May the two companies teamed up to promote new wireless smartphones, then struck a deal with Google to use their GPS-enabled maps. But to promote their latest device — the Drift — they created a "provocative" radio campaign.
I got Google Maps
in my pants
in my pants
in my pants
Put Google Maps
in your pants (get a Helio)
in your pants
in your pants
We have to wonder if this move was officially sanctioned by Google's marketing team, or if it was, perhaps, the result of a third party ad company's over-zealousness.
Google's corporate web site specifies that their goal is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible..." And how can it be universally accessible if it's not in your pants? It could be argued that Google's publicists should be thrilled that their mapping solution's mobile capabilities are getting widespread promotion in a major ad campaign for a cutting-edge smartphone. But damn if this spot isn't extremely cheesy. Sure, it's radio, but a jingle? This isn't 1975!
The Helio ad is set to a soulful lite-rock rap.
Tough boys are you ready to....
Girl you've got me all tied down
Now I never get around
Spend Friday nights on the couch
Girl I think I'm done with you (All done!)
Helio's lyrics cry out for some deconstruction. They describe a man apparently dumping his girlfriend in his newfound excitement over a $225 GPS-enabled smartphone. This seems implausible already — leaving aside the additional unlikely premises that he's a) someone who knows how to rap and b) has a girlfriend. But that's the image they're selling, trying to impress that elusive new market of device-enabled social networkers.
I got the whole world to see
I want to find the world's tallest tree
The bomb-est B.L.T.
Google maps will set me free
In the ad jingle, the marketer's message is made clear. The phone aids in his quest to travel the world searching for tall trees and sandwiches. It's a metaphor, of course, for the thrilling freedom that awaits the device-enabled social networkers when they escape the world of desk-bound monitors. Although all Helio really does is bundle GPS services into a slick consumer package.
This includes the ability to broadcast a map with your location to any friends with the same Helio device — and Helio is pitching it to a young demographic of early adopters. "Just turn on the Beacon and you'll show up on your buddy's Drift," Helio's web site explains. "Turn it off and you'll be... wait, where did you go? Stop. Seriously, I can't see you...."
The youth-targeted marketing attempts to convey social networking with the image of abandoning unhappy Friday nights spent on a couch. The lite-rock rap is just an additional marketer's cue for hip-ness, signaling their intention to create an advertising campaign that gets up in your face. (Or is that up in your crotch?)
Ultimately the real drawback to Helio's image-branding campaign is how little information is actually conveyed about the device itself and its monthly $65 service fee.
(Rap) I got a new toy
and it's really insane
It's called the Helio
and it's got a huge brain.
It knows where I am and
I tell it where to go. It's got
Google maps with the GPS
Wait, I'm confused. Bad rhyming aside, "Where to go" would presumably be "in my pocket". Or are there a few words deleted because they didn't scan?
I tell it where [it is that I want] to go [and am wirelessly provided with driving directions].
We'd dismiss this as a brief stumble by Google's marketing team if we weren't so impressed by Helio's aggressive marketing campaigns so far. In June they even created a MySpace page which has already accrued 163,980 friends and 9,131 comments. It offers handy promotional come-ons for trendy device-enabled social networkers — Helio ringtones, sticker patterns, icons, and wallpaper. And they're sponsoring concerts with Pharrel, Ludacris, Lupe Fiasco, and Snoop Dogg.
Perhaps we are all just pawns in Google's great game of global domination. But in a final irony, Google's next move may be brokering ads to radio stations.
Curse you, Google, and your clever, unbeatable marketing strategies. In a futile attempt to balance the scales, we'll strike back with one last impotent piece of media criticism:
CHORUS: Don't call it a phooooone
"’cuz it's got maps. Word. Peace out to all my gadget-slangin' homies."
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