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Durability has always been a weak spot for smartphones; too many have an unpleasant memory of hefty replacement or repair fees after dropping a phone in a pool or seeing a screen shatter on concrete. These frustrations spawned the YouTube sensation of “Torture Tests.”
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For the unfamiliar, Torture Tests are videos that demonstrate whether a product can or can’t stand up to particular damage. Smartphones, in particular, are a frequent subject of these Torture Tests. YouTube houses hours of phones going into freezers or blenders, getting dropped from buildings, submerged into water, and worse.
These videos are shot by everyone from established media outlets (like CNet), to influencers, to bored teenagers, but they’re so notable because they speak to product utility – does the phone hold up as I think it will – or not?
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Torture Tests are not new to advertising. As early as 1950, Timex used Torture Tests to prove its value proposition – that regardless of the circumstances, the watch kept ticking. They ran print ads with a Timex strapped to Mickey Mantle’s bat, frozen in an ice cube tray, spun for seven days in a vacuum cleaner, taped to a giant lobster claw, or wrapped around a turtle in a tank. This form of advertising captivated audiences and by the early 1960s, one in every three watches owned in the U.S. was a Timex.
In this very funny, light-hearted ad for the Samsung Galaxy S7 featuring Lil Wayne, Samsung demonstrates both the resurgence of this trend and the migration of this trend to television advertising. In this spot, Lil Wayne pours champagne over his smartphone and even drops it in a fish tank – and it holds up. Amazing!
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For marketers, what’s especially noteworthy is that this ad shows the migration of a digital video format (YouTube Torture Tests) to a traditional medium, TV. It encourages marketers to continue to be curious about the ways that audiences are both consuming and creating content, and be open to integrating this into larger campaigns on more established media.
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Have you seen this ad yet? What do you think?