Yesterday, we were at the UK launch of the new Honor 7 smartphone. It’s a great phone. It has some really cool features, and as we said in our hands-on, loads of talking points.
So how is this pitiful effort the advert for it?
When they played this at the launch last night, my palm hit my face before we were even five seconds in. By the end, I was full-body cringing. And THEN, the room erupted in applause. Seriously, I mouthed to my friend in the audience? Seriously?
Sometimes, when you’re one of the few women at a sausage fest of a tech launch, you feel like you’re being oversensitive when you’re annoyed by stuff like this. You see everyone else smiling and applauding, or at worst saying it’s not a particularly good ad, while you’re fuming that you’ve just seen a phone personified as a blonde stereotype wearing tiny shorts.
Who is literally at her man’s beck and call.
Who brings him snacks.
Who answers to honey bear.
But you know what? I’m not oversensitive. This ad sucks. It’s clearly insulting to women, trotting out that tired old trope of the personal assistant, servant, concubine – a girlfriend who exists only to serve the man’s needs, and to look good while doing it. But it’s insulting to men, too. Aren’t you guys sick of being portrayed as hopeless plankton? Spec-wearing gamer nerds who can’t even fix their drones without a woman to hand them the screwdriver? Who are totally lost and unable to function when their precious ‘honey bear’ is out of sight?
And aren’t we all tired of tech adverts that appeal to the lowest common denominator when they should be telling us about the product? Who talk down to us by appealing to our lazy, horny base levels instead of our intelligence and capacity to actually understand and be interested by our tech?
Still, just in case anyone does think it’s just me, or just women, here’s a man‘s opinion:
And another one – Jack Stevens, Marketing Director of Valtech UK:
Not just me, then.
But you know what was just me? The responsibility to call them on it, because I knew no one else in that room was going to do it. Immediately after the launch, me and 40-ish other journos decamped to a meeting room for a group interview with Honor’s CEO, George Zhao – the perfect opportunity to question the ad.
The session was booked for 30 minutes. I waited 25 minutes before speaking up, to give everyone else a fair chance to ask the question. But they didn’t, of course. So it fell to me.
As you’d expect, there was an awkward silence after I asked the question. Some nervous laughter. And then a total hedge of an answer from Zhao that boiled down to “The ad comes from China and it did well there, so shrug, your issue if you don’t like it.”
“It’s been very popular with young people in China,” explained Zhao.
“Young people? Or young men?” I challenged.
“Young people,” he countered.
“Really?!” – and then the mic was taken out of my hand and they moved on to the next question.
It disappoints me that I had to ask that question. It disappoints me that no one else did. But most of all, it disappoints me that ads like this continue to be made in 2015. It’s unoriginal, it’s uninspired, it’s boring, it’s insulting, and it’s bloody typical of tech advertising. Not only that, but it doesn’t even sell the phone. The Voice Wakeup feature is genuinely useful (I demoed it in this video, amazingly without changing into tiny shorts), and this reduces it to a cheap laugh. Who would honestly buy a £250 piece of tech off the back of this tripe?
I like Honor. But as long as challenger brands continue to produce bilge like this while Apple make high-gloss, feature-focused ads, the iPhone will make Honey Bears of all of them.
Main image: Honor/YouTube