Best Buy goes with tech celebrities not Hollywood names

In the Super Bowl Best Buy ad, most of America is introduced to inventors of mobile tech

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
February 6, 2012
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There are a handful of companies that are usually present in the line-up of Super Bowl ads each year -- and Best Buy is definately one of those companies. Last year, the big electronics box store snagged Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osborne for its commercials during the big game. But this year, Best Buy went the way of the lesser known innovators of some of our favorite mobile technology.

In a 30-second spot, Best Buy introduced the football viewers to the people that brought us text messaging, the phone camera, video-sharing, text-to-speech, Square, Instagram, Words with Friends and Shazam.

The commercial pointed out just how much technology we all expect from and add to the mobile devices that we keep on us every waking (and resting) moment. 

This could be the most Silicon Valley-packed commercial aired nationwide. From SMS message innovator Neil Papworth to Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, Square founder Jim McKelvey and Shazam creators Chris Barton and Avery Wang -- the commercial reads more like a TED conference lineup than an advertisement that runs next to Pepsi's Elton John, Melanie Amero and Flavor Flav ensemble cast.

While the spot that ran during the Super Bowl was definitely effective in reminding viewers just how far we have come from using a phone as a phone, there is also a longer three minute spot on YouTube that really lets the men behind the technology speak as to how long the innovation took, even when consumers feel like these new additions just seem to pop up out of nowhere.

The Square and Shazam founders both pointed out that their roads to enter the market were long and challenging.

Shazam's Avery Wang even stated in the longer ad that after working on the problem of creating audio recognition software for music, he "was coming to the conclusion that it wasn't possible" before he made a breakthrough. 

And Square founder, McKelvey, said that it took 18 months to get banks and intermediaries to sign-on to their revolutionary phone-based payment system that is now available nationwide.

The camera phone innovator Philippe Kahn, the current CEO of Fullpower Technologies explained that he "built the Polaroid of the 21st century."

Text-to-speech inventor Ray Kurzweil, called his creation of a computer that could recognize printed letters "a solution in search of a problem" that eventually evolved into the building blocks for programs such as Siri

But one of the most fun snippets from the ad was the appearance of the Words With Friends game creators Paul and David Bettner on a plane being approached by a flight attendant before lowering their mobile devices. A clear homage to 30 Rock actor Alec Baldwin's recent run-in with American Airlines' no mobile fun rule.

Hopefully more companies will look down the path of inspiration and praising unsung heroes in the future since many young people out there cold use some more challenging role models rather than physical models like Adriana Lima. But, to be fair, I don't think Kurzwell would be a good fit for the next Victoria Secret campaign.


Here is the spot that ran during the Super Bowl:


And the extended version:

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