Anthropomorphism or assigning human characteristics to nonhuman objects is alive and well in the world of advertising. Perhaps the best example of advertisements which embody this technique are of the “Mac Vs. PC” variety where the Mac character is young and hip and the PC is cross between Bill Gates and Seinfeld’s George Costanza.
Back in 2007, voicemail transcription service PhoneTag, formerly SimulScribe put out an anthropomorphized video as well which is a take-off on Apple’s ads.
More recently, FreePress.net put out a series of anthropomorphized videos trying to build public support for blocking the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile.
And this week, Microsoft put out an ad attacking Gmail. In this production an “evil” mailman who doesn’t actually look evil – acts like it as he actively rummages through people’s mail and embarrasses them.
This ad actually reminds me of another one from consumerwatchdog a while back, portraying Eric Schmidt as an evil ice cream man selling to kids while he scans their information and secrets.
What we are seeing is the mainstreaming of using video to position your opponents and competitors. This is a brave new world and every company is a potential target. The days of being in full control of your corporate image are obviously over and moreover, every company has to examine utilizing such a strategy or at least being ready to defend against it if needed.
Interestingly, this is yet another trend which Apple will get the credit for starting like minimalistic computer designs, tablets and the consumerization of IT.