A few thoughts on product ‘degrees of closeness’

By | July 26, 2010

I am in the process of thinking how to collect into an e-book or something what I’ve been observing regarding product simulations in advertising.

I’m not thrilled with the term ‘degrees of closeness’, but the idea is to have some measure to evaluate a product demonstration or exposition with respect to a real experience with the product.  Today, there seem to be a number of product advertising sites that simulate the experience in a somewhat static way, stitching together product photos (or 3D recreations) with selections such as color.  For example, I came across the 2011 Ford Explorer’s site, which, in the 3D view, lets one navigate from position-to-position, and change the exterior and interior colors.  Done in a professional way, it doesn’t give any interaction with the car.  Maybe the ‘degrees of closeness’ would have various categories, two for example, might be functionality and physical presence (the Ford example being closer in the physical presence category).

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with one demo for the Sony Cyber-Shot TX7 camera that features Taylor Swift.  I can’t seem to find the link anymore, but the idea is that the camera lets you stitch together photos to make a panorama shot.  The demo lets you take pictures of Taylor Swift in a few situations, and I think you can ‘save’ those snapshots somewhere.  On the surface, it seems like a product demo that lets one ‘try out’ the camera.  After some reflection, I see that the functionality demo’d really isn’t terribly useful, from an ‘understanding the camera’ perspective–it doesn’t really use the feel of the camera to give me any more information than if it were briefly explained with some static photos.  Certainly one ‘uses’ the camera to take the photographs, but there doesn’t seem to be anything interesting one learns from that demo as a result of being able to ‘use’ it.

This reminds me of another type of ‘simulation’ which I think falls short on the advertising side.  This happens when manufacturers are sold the ‘product placement’ concept, without a corresponding specific product use.  There seems to be an aura around the product placement concept of ‘if I simply put my product into an ordinary situation, people are going to subconsciously want to buy it.’  I have seen it in games that use branded equipment, presumably as advertising (or adver-training).  If the training (or problem presented to be solved through the ad/training) does not accentuate unique features of the product, then it might be a good training piece for that type of equipment (or it might not even be a good training piece), but certainly it’s advertising effectiveness is questionable without a direct tie-in to the specific product’s specialness.  Ultimately, this makes it of questionable value as an advertising vehicle.

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