The Samsung N140 Video: What Deeper Meaning Does It Reveal?

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samsung-n140Samsung's N140 netbook (currently available in Russia, Germany, Italy and the UK) is making some media appearances, including some publicity shots and a lengthy promotional video. I must admit, I am completely entranced by this video. Not because I particularly want an N140, but because I am trying to figure out what is going on and why any of it should make me desire this netbook.

I'll state upfront that I'm not a fan of advertisements that try to be sly and sidelong about what they're advertising. Yes, the N140 is in almost every shot. However, in the first few it's not being used, it's just off to the side, hanging out. Your eye is instinctively drawn to the woman whose alluring gaze fills the screen in the first shot, then is seen stretching sexily in bed, then practicing her coquettishness in the bathroom mirror. Finally we get to where she uses the N140 to send an email to her "Hunny" telling him to pick her up from the train station in Paris. Okay then.

After that we're treated to many shots of her using the N140 in several places throughout the day, including one where she again stretches sexily, but this time on the grass under a tree. Her Hunny is being annoyingly unresponsive, not answering emails or the phone. But she loves and trusts him, so she packs and heads off to the train station. For some reason she leaves her netbook at home and, lo, Thierry cannot pick her up and he's sorry. Our heroine doesn't know this because she hasn't got her netbook and, even if she did, it doesn't seem to have 3G so she wouldn't know, anyway.

The last shot is of her getting on the train and we're left to imagine the sadness, heartbreak, frustration and possibly expensive cab fare in her future. Also: Buy Samsung.


This kind of promotional material ranks right up there with the increasing number of ads wherein elegant models in elegant clothes hold netbooks elegantly but do not look like they actually use them. It's no great revelation that advertising is more about image than substance, and ad execs learned long ago that in order to sell a product sometimes all you need to do is put a beautiful woman next to it and be done. Still, I can't imagine that being very effective in the tech world. I'm also not an ad exec, so there you go.

So tell me, after watching that video, what message do you think Samsung is trying to convey? Always take your netbook with you, especially on the train? Men are irresponsible jerks? Beautiful women need netbooks, too? Don't go to Paris?

Is this commercial aimed at women or at men? I'm not sure who it's meant to appeal to.

If you can pierce or peel back the many layers of meaning here and get to the message, please enlighten us.

Hat Tip: Liliputing and Blogee

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  • Alex Muntada Says:

    @Matthew Daly, FWIW it's not Paris it's Barcelona.

  • Liz Says:

    I can't figure it out! But I wish it didn't whistle quite so jauntily!

    Personally I think this ad suffers from failing the Bechdel test. Wouldn't she be better off hanging out on IM with 9 of her friends at once the way normal people are, rather than obsessing over this loser boyfriend?

  • Meg Says:

    If you leave your netbook at home, you might find an excellent excuse to party with some hot Parisian dudes, drink lots of French wine, and buy the first new pair of shorts you've had since you were eight.

  • koipond Says:

    The hell? My guess would be that's it was created by a bunch of doods who were trying to make it appeal to women but had absolutely no clue how.

    "Let's show them that a woman can use it."
    "She's got to be using it sexy though."
    "Of course!"

    Seriously. My other amazing point is that apparently she takes it everywhere, except with her when she goes on a train which, I dunno, is probably another spot you could use it. All for some joke where her boyfriend can't pick her up at the end?


  • Matthew Daly Says:

    I can't quite work out the story either. She's already *in* Paris, isn't she? I'd feel horrible for her if she had been boarding a plane in NYC and her loser French boyfriend wasn't going to meet her at the airport, and I think that's what they wanted me to feel, but there she is leaving a building marked " de communi..." and walking up the Champs Elysee on the way to the train station, n'est-ce pas? He didn't ruin a vacation, he called off a date. Was this originally a French ad and Samsung decided that all they needed to do was paste in three notebook screens with English text on them to create any story they wanted?

    I can't say that I hate the ad, though. I think that there is a continuum of useful ads, where one end gives you that message "You need this notebook" and the other is "You need *a* notebook" . You personally are already sold on the latter message, but I suspect a lot of the marketplace isn't, and visualization of how the device can be seamlessly incorporated into a casual young non-tech life is somewhat sweet. I wonder if Samsung was deliberately vague on the woman's surfing because Dell's "Della" campaign was so offensive at suggesting that young women could use a notebook to do fun girly stuff like manage their recipes and trade workout tips, tee hee.

  • kaigou Says:

    Maybe it's supposed to appeal to the vapid crowd -- the ones who type with two fingers at the rate of about two letters a minute, and given the choice would a) stare at themselves in the mirror and b) leave the damn thing at home. Whatever it's saying, what I'm getting from it is that I -- as someone who does not a) make cute faces at myself in the mirror or b) leave my laptop at home when I travel or even c) type at a rate so slow it must be measured in geological terms -- am most definitely NOT the consumer they're seeking.

    Or maybe it's the company's goal to brand itself as the hip new thing for technologically-inept narcissistic fashion-victim morons. In which case, I'd say they're on the right track.

  • K. T. Bradford Says:

    Maybe it will be like those Taster's Choice commercials where the story will unfold 30 seconds at a time over 4 years. Next episode: alone in Paris with nothing but a netbook and a broken heart, our intrepid heroine finds new love in the arms of someone who isn't too busy to pick her up from the station.

  • AP Says:

    This is just begging for a sequel

  • K. T. Bradford Says:

    I mentioned this on my own blog, but it's worth mentioning here: the video for the Nokia Booklet 3G is far more effective and yet includes no models (well, there's a hand model...) and is essentially just a lot of specs and product shots. but it works. I know what the product is, what it's capable of, and why I should buy it. Plus the music soars!

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

  • Meghan J. McDonough Says:

    This video has a weird stop-motion quality to it that reminds me of the creepy girl from the Ring. Only with short-shorts. And a netbook.

    Where is this girl's smartphone? Truly, that would solve the problem.

  • Jasini Says:

    Short-shorts and heels? I don't believe it.

  • Byron Says:

    I guess it had a "don't leave home without it" vibe, but the ability to receive three-line email messages from your "hunny" isn't exactly relevant. That's what text messages are for...does she not own a phone? And what sort of loser EMAILS his girlfriend to share important information like, "you're gonna be stranded in Paris?" I'd like to see the other side of this commercial about Thierry - he is the one who has connectivity issues.

    Maybe if she suddenly needed to make a presentation at work from her PowerPoint files, create a surprise spreadsheet at a coffee shop or quickly edit together video in Windows Movie Maker while walking down a runway at Fashion Week, I would feel that she was justified in bringing it with her everywhere. But she didn't anyway, and therefore the message of this ad is totally negative - I don't see how that would sell something. Isn't stressing the positive more effective?

    Alas, I think it was probably more about trendy music, clothes, and of course a skinny model looking fabulous.

  • Brad Linder Says:

    I'll admit, I was so baffled by the video that I kind of presented it without comment on my web site today. I figured I must have misunderstood... that maybe she had somehow used the netbook to get the right information. But I'm glad to know that I'm not the only person who sees this as a somewhat tragic story.

  • Jules Says:

    Maybe our heroine is supposed to tell her "hunny" to get a netbook too, so that he can answer her email in a more timely fashion? Of course, if he leaves it at home when travelling, like she does, I'm not sure it would do her any good for him to have one. And I'd say this commercial is aimed at heterosexual and bisexual men, since waifish women smiling coquettishly at themselves in mirrors and stretching sexily aren't meant to appeal to heterosexual women, and "Thierry" is likely meant to indicate this woman isn't available to bisexual and gay women.

    Or maybe I'm just still so dazzled by the Nokia netbook commercial (I want to test out that keyboard, which looked promisingly-sized for small but long fingers, and wow, twelve hours of battery life!) that I'm reading the Samsung commercial all wrong.

  • Brian Says:

    I actually felt like it was an anti-netbook message because if she hadn't been relying on it so heavily as a means of communication, she may not have made the mistake (it seems) of getting on that train

  • Mer Says:

    I have no idea what that was about, other than "the only people who can wear shorts that short have thighs the width of my aorta."

    And "that girl doesn't know how to touch type."

    Very compelling information, those two facts.

  • Jess Says:

    I got it! Maybe it's one of those after-market, feel-good-that-you've-purchased-our-product ads (because aren't you so pretty, wandering around with that netbook) that's trying to tell you to never, ever leave your netbook behind or you might miss a vitally important email.

    Or maybe it's trying to tell us that we should dump our boyfriends and just hang out with our netbooks all day--at least the netbook's there for us.

  • K. T. Bradford Says:

    I'm starting to think that the message of this promo is: Netbooks make better companions than men.

  • AP Says:

    Maybe it's an anti-netbook message. If she'd only had a world-enabled smart phone none of this would have ever happened.

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