HP’s latest campaign, "Get Real," was aimed at highlighting how digital platforms and devices are making people less connected to real life, but the effort was slammed on social media since the company – a tech giant itself – was promoting its printer as part of the initiative.
Soon after its launch, Twitter users began posting "Ok, Boomer" in response to the campaign. The phrase, which became popular on TikTok, is a rejoinder from Gen Z and younger millennials to what they believe to be out-of-touch or condescending remarks from older generations.
This week, Campaign US asked industry experts what they think about the initiative.
Do you think HP's "Get Real" campaign is out of touch? Why or why not?
Tim Smith, President, Chemistry Atlanta
Somewhere between my first and second kid, film turned to digital. My poor son got the second child apathy combined with a new technology that lived on little chips and got lost in drawers. New parents found the magic of having a video babysitter at dinner, so grandma didn’t get a call to visit. Concerts became video shoots, and everyone became compelled to capture moments they can never really relive.
What is real, who knows, but what’s real here is great execution. The fact that HP is getting people talking is real, so the marketing isn’t out of touch. You are going to have luddites and technophiles, but of course, life is a balance. I am all for HP pushing print - as long as I get to keep my digital - and I don’t think they are asking us to make a life vow. The stats from its "Real Report" make some emotional points – 84% of parents would rather have their kids use a coloring book than a smartphone – sure, but only if they don’t have to cobble together the broken crayon pieces from under the couch cushions first.
Ian Kovalik, Chief Creative Officer, Mekanism
Upon viewing the HP "Get Real" campaign for the first time, my consumer brain slammed into a green fridge door of confusion. True, we need a healthy balance with screens – any parent takes that as a given – but do we need a storied tech brand that pioneered such tech things as AI, blockchain, and – screens -- calling out the obvious? To the creatives who made this, I sympathize. I hear the crackles of tension around the brief. The production value is solid. The music is fun, and the last shot of the girl is fittingly depressing. Well done. But I like my rainbow vomit Snapchat lens. And I’m a hero to my kid because I know how to install a Minecraft Mod. All this digital stuff is progress - real progress. And if there’s an imbalance to screens and digital things, an HP printer won’t set the cosmic household balance back in order. I just don’t buy it. Instead, my head smolders in confusion, and all I want to do is cool it off in that nice green fridge.
Nancy Hill, CEO, The Agency Sherpa
This is an example of ‘uh, oh you’re strategy’s showing’ and I’m not sure the strategy is a good one to begin with. I don’t think the target audience even cares about, let alone remembers, printing out pictures to hang on the fridge. Feels a bit like mom and dad reminiscing for the ‘old days’ while the kids just roll their eyes.
Tom Lyons, Head of Creative Solutions, SocialCode
HP's Get Real ad is super fun and entertaining and asks an interesting, and maybe important, question. Answering that question with "printing" requires a difficult mental gymnastics. The pictures on my phone are less real than the ones I print? Digital is bad and physical is good? Is theater better than movies, because it's physical? It seems to ignore a reality that access to content creation, curation, and distribution, regardless of format is ubiquitous and that likely comes with both good and bad, but is definitely real.
Scott MacLeod, Director of Planning, The VIA Agency
HP put their finger on a big, uncomfortable, real tension - the (sometimes) unhealthy relationship between people and technology. As a tech company, that’s a bold move.
But…this wholesale tech-shaming approach felt heavy-handed to me for a few reasons. First, we live in an ‘OK Boomer’ reality where blunt criticism from older generations (or old-school companies) comes across as "just not getting it" (check out HP's Twitter feed to see this IRL). Second, you only have to look at the spread of Tik Tok clubs in schools - the modern "drama club" - to see that new tech platforms are hotbeds of creativity and positivity. Finally, technology is the way we capture the experiences that HP makes money printing, so they’re biting the hand that feeds.
But, most importantly, to me it all misses a bigger, more interesting question – what are memories in a world of disappearing stories and never-ending feeds? Phones are both the ultimate memory box and the deepest black hole. Moments we think we’re capturing are quickly forgotten - but HP could actually be the key to making them live on. That seems like it’d be much more fertile territory for them to riff on.