Tech ad watch: Toshiba's 'testing' spots fall flat

There's a fine art to the kind of slightly surreal, relentlessly tongue-in-cheek school of humor that seems to appeal to hipster types from a few years ago think movies like Napoleon Dynamite or comedians like Demetri Martin. Those two things were funny, but they also spawned endless numbers of off-putting, obnoxious imitations, particularly in the advertising industry.

Toshiba's latest series of ads appears to be shooting for a combination of this self-conscious style of humor and the well-known "Will it blend" series of videos. Like many attempts to do two things at once, it's not particularly successful at either. See video here.

Really, gang, you probably should've stuck with the simple durability test it's a tried-and-true formula. Besides "will it blend," there have been any number of successful campaigns of the type in the tech industry alone. Remember Google's "Chrome speed tests?" Those were great, because they were creative and visually well-conceived. I particularly liked the one with the potato gun and the French fries, which my girlfriend refuses to let me try out in the house.

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Toshiba, on the other hand, has a paint shaker, an ice sculpture, and just throwing the stupid thing into the air, among its 10 uninspired tests. Guys, maybe if you spent a little more time on creative torture tests and less on making sure Matt and Jamie are wearing the right silly outfits, this would've worked better. As it is, it's just kind of charmless and irritating. But hey, at least it's not going to be on during the Super Bowl.

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Ah, the power of lowered expectations. Given how lousy most GoDaddy ads have been over the years essentially one long parade of sexist trash it's refreshing to find a comparatively funny, engaging spot being put out by the private domain name registrar.

Having long-time spokesmodel Danica Patrick appear in a muscle suit at about 0:10 was a good touch. I also liked the businesslike way the shop owner hefts her spray gun.

As surprised as I am to say it, I really don't have a lot of negative stuff to say about this spot. It's clever, it gets the point across, and it doesn't have the oily sheen of exploitive awfulness we've come to expect from GoDaddy ads. Hopefully, this signals a turning point.

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In contrast to Super Bowl veteran GoDaddy, Squarespace is a rookie in this most prestigious of advertising venues. The New York-based maker of web publishing tools has started off with a bang, however:

As a depiction of what the web might look like in physical form, this is pretty excellent, and surprisingly comprehensive for a 30-second spot. Maybe we've reached the point where some online headaches are common enough as to need minimal introduction. A split-second shot of a frantic-looking woman asking you to like a picture of her kids doesn't just evoke Facebook, it evokes what we don't like about Facebook. Also covered: That Joseph Ducreaux meme, image macros, mortgage ads and various other forms of web based annoyance.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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