Throughout the history of Chromebooks, Google has tried multiple ways to use ads to help spread the message surrounding the core features of its fledgling OS and quell fears that arise when switching computing platforms. After all, the idea of adopting something very different for one the central computing experiences we have on a daily basis feels daunting. If you’ve gone from and iPhone to Android (or the other way around), you know the feeling.
Through all the marketing messages that have come before, the central message Google has tried to convey with Chromebooks is the idea that many of the things that may frustrate you with other platforms don’t necessarily exist on Chrome OS. This new ad campaign isn’t different in that way, but it does have a catch phrase that I think is as good as – if not better than – one of the oldest Chromebook ads that simply stated that Chromebooks were “For Everyone.”
I loved that campaign and, honestly, those commercials were part of the reason I picked up a Chromebook in the first place. Sure, I was interested in an alternate way of computing and I already bought into Google’s services even back then, so I wasn’t a hard sell. I still remember those commercials, though, and I loved the message they conveyed. Contrast that with the last Chromebook campaign that’s been going for a bit over a year, and the “You Chromebook” phrase just doesn’t feel as well thought out.
Sure, the message was the same, but the delivery has never felt right to me. I suppose it was the forced use of the word Chromebook as a verb that always made me cringe just a little. Don’t like malware and viruses? Then you Chromebook. Yeah, I’m just not a fan of it and though the message was clear and well-intentioned, it simply never resonated.
Switch to Chromebook
That heading right above does something very interesting, and it is the clear message Google is carrying into this new season of Chrome OS. With Pixelbook 2 likely just around the corner, a slew of ARM-powered devices on the way, and a new generation of solid, top-tier Chromebooks coming very soon, Google looks to be ahead of the game this time around instead of launching an ad campaign after a few big device launches.
Google has prepped two main videos and then a series of 15-second spots from those videos that, again, highlight the differences in Chrome OS versus Windows and Mac OS. Just as before, the message is clear: Chrome OS boots fast, stays fast, has great battery life and is secure. You would need to be purposefully not paying attention to miss those clear ideas, and I think Google is wise to play on its strengths.
The part that gets me, however, is the way they are positioning the word Chromebook this time around. With the outgoing ads, we had the clunky use of Chromebook as a verb. Something you do. An action. If I’m sure of anything, it is the fact that Chromebooks are not that at all. I’ve never thought about a Chromebook as something I do. Something I use? Yes. Something I enjoy? Sure. Something I’m passionate about? Absolutely. But never something I do.
In what looks to be a bit of a play from Apple’s book, Google is now choosing to use the word as more of a proper noun. Think about it for a second: do you ever hear Apple or anyone promoting the iPad call it “the iPad?” Listen for it next time you hear a commercial. They always refer to it by name. Just iPad. For instance, Verizon may say, “Come in this week and with your new account, get iPad on us.” You’ll never hear Apple or anyone affiliated say “the iPad” and that is very much on purpose.
By positioning the product in this way, you give it a semblance of personality. When I interact with a cup, chair, or door, I’m simply interacting with a thing: an inanimate object, devoid of personality or uniqueness. I’ll pick up the cup, move the chair, or open the door. What if I were to begin talking about my coffee cup without using “the?” Now, I pick up Coffee Cup. Put into context, I may ask, “Can you hand Coffee Cup to me?” Notice the change. Notice how this gives a much different status to Coffee Cup. Notice that this formerly inanimate object now has an aura, status, and maybe personality.
The same happens when we begin to be conditioned to call an object properly by name. With all the marketing around iPad, it no longer feels odd to me to say out loud, “I can’t do that on iPad. I can do that on my Chromebook, but not iPad.” Weird, right??
It feels like Google’s new catch phrase could begin trying to impact us in a similar fashion. Switch to Chromebook. Not switch to a Chromebook, use the Chromebook, or here’s what the Chromebook can do. Nope. It is simply Chromebook, and I kinda love it. Chromebook is being used here as a more proper noun, not as simply an object. Go back to the example from above and think about it: by removing “the” or “a” from the object, we also remove a layer of objectivity.
Sure, Chromebooks are still just things. They are, after all of this, just objects we interact with and use. But if Google can manage to communicate the platform as something a bit more near, a bit more alive, a bit less thing and a bit more companion, I think they could help endear these devices to user a bit more than before. Let’s face it, we love our gadgets. As much as we use and interact with them, they become part of our lives on a daily and hourly basis. As humans, we’re prone to place value on objects and give them worth far beyond their monetary value.
Perhaps Google is playing on this a bit when it suggests you switch to Chromebook. I think this campaign has a lot of promise and could stick with us for quite a bit of time moving forward, and I’m very interested in seeing exactly where it takes us when talking about consumer adoption of what is clearly our favorite OS and platform. If you haven’t already, take a quick peek at the new videos and take note of this new way Google is referring to Chromebook. See what I did, there?