In case you hadn’t heard earlier in the week, über-company General Electric is getting vintage with the themes of their new ad campaign and much like the Direct TV commercials of not too long ago, they’re using old pop culture callbacks to help raise interest and awareness for their new products. We’ve already seen GE use KITT from Knight Rider and Data from Star Trek: Next Generation to help introduce their new “Brilliant Machines” campaign, but their newest installent is a bit of a head scratcher.
The new GE ad premiered during Saturday Night Live and features Agent Smith from The Matrix films, played by Hugo Weaving, walking through a hospital talking about how amazing and brilliant the machinery is and how easy it makes the lives of humans. First off, it’s just cool to see The Matrix again, but the wires seem to have gotten crossed somewhere.
What was Agent Smith in The Matrix? Well, for those of you who still haven’t absorbed the trilogy, Smith was the antagonist and the biggest, baddest and evilest machine of them all in The Matrix. His entire purpose was to make the lives of human beings not only difficult, but no longer existent. So now we have a commercial that is trying to sell how amazing machines are and how they can save human lives — and the spokesperson is the anti-christ of machines.
Doesn’t that seem more than a little counterintuitive to what you’re trying to say?
Obviously, we’re getting technical and a bit nerdy about the whole situation, but it does deserve mentioning. At the end of the day, the ads are fun to watch and only the over analytical will read as far into it as we just have. But despite the “cool factor” the ad has, it’s a classic example of a company selling something by injecting it full of ethos to appeal to the audience’s nostalgia (it’s effective as hell, by the way).
You do have to give GE some credit, as they aren’t selling iPads to hipsters in coffee shops, they’re selling a wide range of machines and softwares to businesses and organizations. The logic in including pop culture characters is that consumers will connect the commercial with the mention of GE, and therefore it does have value to the business or organization that invests in GE’s software and machinery.
Now, using one of the most devilishly soulless and downright evil machines to ever grace a movie screen as your selling tool is hilariously questionable, but at the end of the day most people will have the reaction of hey, Agent Smith, that’s so cool! rather than holy mother of God, he’s come for us!