Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Packard Bell's Vision of the Future, Another Look 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Just in case you wondered how well those "futuristic" television ads from years ago come across today.

Though the "Wouldn't You Rather Be At Home?" campaign was poorly received compared to Apple's "1984" ad (recently revived when an erstwhile Obama fan remixed it into an anti-Hilary Clinton ad), I prefer it to the latter.

Speaking of mood, where did Packard-Bell go wrong? While both spots used a monochrome dystopia to depict the "problem," "1984" had an obvious hero in the hammer-tossing runner who frees the proles by smashing the "Big Brother" screen. In Packard Bell's ad, the weary masses are never seen transcending their subjection. When the candy-colored payoff scene finally appears, Packard Bell's computerized "smart home" is as uninhabited as the post-apocalyptic house in Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains."

By the way, a fascinating, unrelentingly bleak Russian animated short film, "Будет ласковый дождь" (9:15) inspired by the Bradbury short story, is available on Google Video. Caveat: it's considerably more violent and graphic than Bradbury's version. In October of 1996, a number of (pre Internet-boom) librarian listserv members expressed outrage at the ads, but a fellow user offered this forward-looking perspective:
Of ~50 camera shots in the ad depicting the urban hell, about 10 are set in the nightmare library. Other scenes contributing to the urban hell include a cobwebby bank, people migrating through urban wasteland, and lots of standing in line. It uses image ideas from the depression era photography (breadlines and sad tired faces) and film ideas (Bladerunner's urban hell, Wizard of Oz black and white blooming into color) and book ideas (1984, anyone?) and reminds me of the influential Apple Computer advertisement
that ran during the Olympics years ago.
Yes, libraries are still around 11 years later...but where is Packard Bell? Yes, I did post about this ad a couple of years ago, before YouTube.

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