To advertise a car, marketers can use loud engine noises, fast-moving landscapes, and the imagery of shifting gears. But what about promoting a computer or technology solution? That is trickier. Few technology companies have hit homeruns with one or two notable exceptions such as Apple or Dell. We’re showcasing several terrible commercials for computers and tech products below, because failure is funnier than success.
Microsoft Windows 1.0
Much has been said about Steve Ballmer’s legendary temper (He once threw a tantrum in a conference room), but you can’t fault him for his enthusiasm in this video. In what feels like a late-night commercial on a public access channel, Ballmer is actually selling— maybe even overselling—Windows 1.0. Unfortunately, the constant shouting doesn’t do much to show the capabilities of the operating system.
Also, a quick explanation on why he says, “Except in Nebraska.” Until the mid-1990s, federal law forbade the same 800 number from being used for both in- and out-of-state calls. As most companies had their call centers in Nebraska because of its large number of phone lines, it had to be excluded from many call-in offers. In this video, Steve Ballmer is just using that fact to make a joke. Nebraskans could in fact buy Windows 1.0.
MSI Nightblade z97
The MSI Nightblade z97 is a mini-ITX barebone system designed for gaming and portability. Included is a 600 watt power supply, network interface card, and OC cooler. Just don’t expect the video for the Z97 to tell you that. In fact, you don’t really know what the video is about until 40 seconds into the video—after a lengthy autobiography that comes off as pandering to female gamers.
Adding to the confusion, the middle of the video is a not-so-short tutorial on how to assemble the Nightblade z97.Who exactly is the intended audience of the video, potential buyers or owners? The voiceover also puzzles audiences, as it becomes clear later in the video that the onscreen actress is not the person doing the talking except for a few exclamations. Was the onscreen actress’ voice terrible?
Samsung 840 EVO SSD
The previous generation Samsung 840 was one of the most highly-rated SSDs on our website and has stellar reviews from both users and hardware critics alike. This commercial for the drive however, falls short of the mark. Wooden acting and poor dialogue are the least of the problems however. Many viewers saw it as sexist and Samsung removed the ad from their media pages.
In a Reddit thread for the video, one of the actors stated in a comment (that has since been deleted) that the video was to be dubbed over in Korean and written for a non-Western audience. He also revealed that Samsung did not intend to air the commercial on television and produced it for expos and similar events.
In the 80s and 90s, Apple had a series of off-the-wall commercials starting with its 1984 Super Bowl ad. They were produced by advertising giant Chiat\Day, which also made the very successful Get a Mac campaign starring Justin Long and John Hodgeman. They probably learned their lessons from the 1985 Super Bowl ad above, which painted business PC users as mindless cubicle drones.
Not only is the advertisement bafflingly dark, but it basically retreads the same ground as Ridley Scott’s famous 1984 advertisement. The ad was a flop and the Macintosh Office project ended up being cancelled.
Do you remember the Facebook commercial above? It was only about three years ago. It makes a logical leap comparing Facebook to chairs because both bring people together. That makes sense, right? It shows several scenes with groups of people sitting together, because that’s basically Facebook in the real world.
They produced the commercial to commemorate the fact that Facebook had just reached its one billionth user—just don’t expect to know that from watching it. Would it surprise you to find out that the original upload has since been removed?
This Microsoft video actually manages to make a comeback because the badness actually makes it 80s gold. With a six minute runtime, it was made for retailers instead of for airing. It actually does a fairly good job of showcasing Windows/386. Unfortunately, it had to make it a musical piece filled with Cyndi Lauper hair and hip hop. Just in case you’re wondering, Windows/386 was actually the marketing name of Windows 2.1.