The Battle for Time - Week of September 18

September 26, 2016 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai, Content Editor

Boldly go where no man has gone before.

This might not be a Star Trek narration about “space: the final frontier,” but this is still an appropriate phrase to refer to Lenovo’s new ad campaign #skipthesevens.

In this aggressive ad, Lenovo encourages smartphone users to skip the recently launched iPhone 7 in favour of the Moto Z and its Moto Mods.

Picking at how the “smartphone category” (which we all know is largely owned by Apple) “is focused on incremental improvements,” the Moto Z is hailed as something that’s actually different. Something that can “carry the torch” in the endless tech battle of one-upping each other.

It’s ballsy. It’s challenging. It’s sharp.

This is what captured our minutes this week.

Here’s why:

1. The ad targets what everyone was dismayed about with the iPhone 7 launch: true differentiation.

Wait for it, wait for it! Oh, it’s just in a new colour, faster and has a better camera.

That encompassed a lot of the reactions surround the iPhone 7 this past month, something that’s not typical for the tech giant that has basically trademarked shock and awe.

This Moto Z ad actually calls out its own industry.

“It seems like the smartphone category is focused on incremental improvements. Display sizes increase by fractions of an inch. Cameras change by a few megapixels. And you often have to wait years for the next big thing.”

Shots fired, but perfectly so.

Have you ever heard things like “know your customers” or “tailor your content to your audience”? Well the Moto Z did just that.

It captured the sentiments of smartphone customers everywhere who wanted a truly special reason to be trading their first-born children for a phone. In turn, Lenovo gets loyalty points with customers who feel like they’re being heard.

2. Lenovo gets honest with its customers.

For all its brazenness, the ad still has a solid dose of humility.

That smartphone game it calls out? It admits that it too, played that same game.

Acknowledging the iPhone as what knocked Motorola off its perch when the first generation iPhone was released? Yeah, it did that too.

While it’s ok to make mistakes, it’s even better to admit them. There’s nothing customers hate worse than a company that thinks it can do no wrong.

Being human, getting real about things that haven’t been so ideal are the moves that get brands into the good books with consumers. Why? Because it all breeds trust.

3. The copy is brilliantly strategic.

Apart from the transparency, the copy in this ad has more going for it than just being sassy.

Everything from the key phrases, tone of voice and cadence are meant to do two things: pick up on the motifs of competitors and re-position Lenovo and its Motorola products as something different.

The whole idea of “thinking differently?” Yup, that’s Apple.

“The next big thing?” That’s Samsung.  

The line about “while everyone else is figuring out how to improve their smartphones, we reimagined what the smartphone can be” is what really seals the deal.

See, too often differentiation is taken far to literally in its meaning. A company or brand slaps the label of “innovator” onto its theoretical forehead by taking what others have done and improving or upgrading them.

That’s not differentiation. That’s just an example of time passing.

Differentiation, especially in the case of what the Moto Z is proposing itself to be, is when you take a category and truly change how things are done. Clean slate. Wipe the board. Building from something new, not from what’s already been done.

It even takes the time to say why it’s different instead of just saying it is.

Once again, Lenovo proves it’s been reading the angry tweets and listening to the disgruntled under-the-breath comments from consumers.

Kudos to them.  

Will it all pay off for Lenovo and the Moto Z? Who knows?

What's important is that the brand put honesty to good use in knocking the other competitors off their perch this time.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?

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The Battle for Time - Week of September 18.