Reality Speaks for Itself

So you might expect that I’d deem this Dell ad a failure based on my last post.

Yes, I know Dell was started in a dorm room and part of what attracted me to Dell (back when I was in the PC world) was that sense of excitement around something new. Dell was an innovator, selling directly to consumers, building PCs to order. But I’m said to say for me and Dell, that was almost 20 years ago now. The Dell of today,from where I stand, has become another commodity, whether they fell pray to the innovator’s dilemma, just didn’t have a second act, or just lost touch with their roots and values as they grew, I don’t know.

That’s why this ad is so compelling. It touches on the Dell that I remember, it touches on that excitement and the feelings associated with boot-straping and startups. I think this ad is well done, in case you haven’t gotten that point yet. But I think the real test of whether this ad is a success or failure is what Dell does next.

Is this just another ad designed to bolster Dell’s position in the market place or is this ad a real attempt by Dell to reconnect with their roots? Is this ad a signal that Dell is going to take ownership of that startup story?

If Dell thinks that they can run an ad like this one and continue with business as usual, and things will change, then I think they’re in for a surprise. But if Dell is really committed to having that start-up spirit again, if we (meaning consumers) see those changes in their choices as a company, well then that’s an exciting proposition.

What if Dell said, “We’re the computer company of entrepreneurs everywhere because we were started in a dorm room, so we get it” (ok that’s more of the meta-message, they should say that, but much less on the nose). What if they had special services that catered to the entrepreneur in all of us. Like what? I don’t know, Dell would need to figure that out, it could be a special tech support system or having a business consultant who could help you use Dell technology to start your venture, the details (so long as they’re actually useful to entrepreneurs) aren’t so important, what is important is that they match their message, the story they’re telling in this ad, with what consumers see them doing.

People have good bullshit detectors, if a company spins a story that doesn’t match the reality, folks usually pick it up. This is a compelling ad, an ad that tells a story, the real question is this: Is that story fiction or nonfiction?

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