love in the time of mechanical reproduction

right before motorola launched their ipad killer, the "xoom" tablet, i partnered with their ad agency, ogilvy & mather, to make a documentary focusing on the "passion" and "process" of its creation. our team traveled to chicago, deep into the beating heart of the motorola empire, to interview key engineers, marketers and project managers as well as tour their state-of-the-art facilities and capture the magic of building a new piece of technology. i came away with two distinct lessons:

1) no matter how detail oriented or technical the job, passion lies firmly rooted in the eye of the beholder. this dude is psyched!

2) "state-of-the-art" technical facilities actually look like MacGyver's messy garage. if anyone ever says you don't need an art department to shoot a commercial because "you're just getting documentary coverage", simply smile politely and walk away. even a "verité" mess needs to be art directed.

after many hours with the hyper-thoughtful and extremely skilled editor, carlos almonte, and my favorite colorist, emery wells, we ended up with this short film which immediately disappeared into the ravenously content-hungry maw that is the advertising world.

but the more i started paying attention to the moto (and droid) campaigns, the more i started asking myself an odd question: are advertisers reflecting a cultural desire to be a robot?

the question might sound strange but consider two unrelated but recent campaigns:

i haven't a clue what who this is supposed to appeal to. cyberpunk frat boys? disco-hopping sci-fi fans? is there a segment of people aspiring to robotic perfection? even if i don't understand these, at least they're still tongue-in-cheek fun, all about the par-TAAAAY!

the droid campaign is a different matter entirely. ok, so the iphone has effectively owned the clean, white humanistic design territory making the opposite direction - dark, mysterious and sexy - the obvious choice for a droid campaign. but just because apple has effectively conveyed an easy-to-use, distinctly human interface and tone, should droid emphasize a complicated and robotic aesthetic? don't believe me? check out this commercial where the user (that's YOU) turns into a cyborg after using a droid:

this is not metaphor. dude actually turns into the terminator (and let's be honest, it's definitely a dude). am i missing something? are there, in fact, large groups of people running around wishing to be Robocop? well, actually... hmmmm.