Better humaning

Back in October 2019, Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai launched the first campaign for HP’s Omen range of gaming PCs.

The core thought behind the campaign was that gaming is good for your brain! This was intended to tackle societal belief in China that gaming is a waste of time.

To back this claim, W+K Shanghai released information like…
“Laparoscopic surgeons who are also gamers perform 37% fewer errors.
Gamers can improve memory by 12% when gaming 30 minutes every day for 2 weeks.
Action video game players respond approximately 12% faster than non-gamers.”

But when it came to the ads, HP and W+K Shanghai took a comic, self-deprecatory approach! The ads were placed in a futuristic ‘Gamer Training Institute’. Here, gamers studied under the guidance of a pair of identical twins with glowing brains and reach high levels of stamina, focus, and teamwork.

HP did not take its China campaign seriously. It was obviously incredulous and intentionally stretched believability, for a reason, to mine humor.

Next, July 2020 – USA launch.

Wieden + Kennedy Portland launched HP Omen’s USA campaign with two ad films titled ‘Bright Dimensions’ and ‘Procreation’.

With the tongue firmly in cheek, HP called the campaign, ‘Transcend Humanity’ 🙂

W+K Portland says, “Yes, gamers are better than everyone else. Contrary to popular belief, computer games actually make you a better person. Research proves they make you faster, quicker, sharper and they even slow down the aging process. So for the latest campaign, Transcend Humanity, HP OMEN shows a near-future where the world’s 2.3 billion gamers have elevated to a higher state of being, thanks to gaming.”

The two films are hilarious since they mock their own statements with extravagantly conjured claims. The ‘Procreation’, in particular, offers that the world’ top gamers donate their DNA at the Peak Humanity Procreation facility, and young couples pick those DNA and make ‘gamer babies’ 🙂

And the internet had a heart laugh at HP’s hilariously comic idea. (Sportskeeda | Resetera)

In June 2021, W+K Tokyo launched the Korean leg of the same campaign, and this had nothing to do with the broader ‘gamers are better humans’ theme that has permeated through the other markets.

But in South Korea, HP’s approach was based on the dynamics of the country’s societal beliefs. While in China W+K used a comic, exaggerated tone, in Korea, W+K took a perfectly serious message: that you get no privilege or special treatment in gaming. Every player starts with the same resources, time, and skills, and only hard work gets rewarded. This is unlike South Korean society where family connections, kind of school/college you go to, physical appearance, or wealth gives you privilege and access.

The ad film to support this communicated a serious message:

September 2021 – the second phase of the HP Omen USA’s ‘Transcend Humanity’ campaign. This time W+K ups the ante even more!

The campaign follows surgeons, political candidates, and pilots who are better in their job because they are also gamers! Recall the W+K Shanghai note? W+K Portland took serious note and made it into a stupendously funny parody. The joke is totally tongue-in-cheek, in line with gamers’ quirky sense of humor (I’m hoping so!).

A recap:
China – Gaming is good for your brain (comic tone)
USA – Transcend Humanity (hilarious parody)
South Korea – Equal opportunities in the world of gaming

Finally, October 2021 – India!

Theme? Gamers are better humans! Very similar to ‘transcend humanity’.

Logic? Gamers have defeated monsters, held territories, sniped enemies… because of their top-tier reflexes, incredible coordination, masterful multitasking, and unbeatable teamwork. So, they are better humans!

Sounds like the combination of the Chinese and US campaign themes? Sure, it does.

But the ad by W+K Delhi, featuring Boman Irani, seems more serious than satire!

Of course, there are references that seem funny – ‘Omen Center for Better Humaning’, and ‘Help humanity human better, you better humans’. Plus, getting Boman Irani to mouth these absurdities considering he is very well known for comic roles. But, ‘they are the next Aryabhattas’? ‘the next da vincis’? ‘the next Einsteins’?

Unlike the Chinese or US ad films where the exaggeration was mighty obvious and bordering on the farcical, the Indian equivalent of the same theme seems to be trudging a middle point between, ‘Are they serious?’ and ‘Are they joking?’. It’s probably intentional, aiding Indian target audiences to pick their own side and considering our country’s sense of humor isn’t at the reasonable stage nowadays (unlike the US where self-referential humor works considerably better).

On the other hand, I felt that the Korean campaign theme could have worked wonders for India too. The theme of privilege arising out of so many things is very relevant to India too. And when the gamers meet in their virtual world, regardless of who they are, they are all the same, letting only their gaming skills define them. That’s a pretty topical and relevant theme for India.

What do you think of the Indian version of ‘transcend humanity’, called ‘better humaning’? Did it seem serious? Or like a self-parody?



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