Browser Branding

What does your choice of browser say about you? Realistically, probably about as much as your choice of soft drink or department store. In television land, though, the branding of Internet Explorer and Chrome couldn’t be more different.

The music is the first thing most people notice about the IE9 commercial.

The song is “Too Close” by Alex Clare, which my (younger, hipper) cousin informs me is heavily influenced by the “dubstep” thing kids are listening to these days. The animation is literally flashy, with blinding white orbs of light ushering flattering reviews around the screen while we’re shown pictures and video of some of our favorite Web sites. Although there’s a one-minute ad online (along with a 15-second ad), the 30-second version is most often seen on TV.

Google takes a slower, more deliberate approach in its 90-second Chrome ad.

The music,“Porch Song” by The Meemies, is not nearly as aggressive and catchy as “Too Close,” but is much more obviously connected to what is happening onscreen. A woman opens an e-mail (in Gmail) from her ex-boyfriend asking her to coffee. She also opens a couple shared documents (in Google Docs), watches a video (on Google-owned YouTube), explores locations they’d visited (on Google Maps), and translates a little Italian sentence the ex-boyfriend wrote (using a Google Translate button). At least, we’re meant to assume the person doing all this is the intended recipient – we’re only shown the computer screen, not the user.

While the Chrome ad gets points for its storytelling, the Internet Explorer spot wins for pure cool. It shows up, displays a heap of mad style and gets out. That’s actually remarkably consistent with Microsoft’s marketing attitude of using technology as quickly as possible. The sentiment is most obvious in recent Windows Phone ads, in which people are depicted fully engrossed in their smartphones and oblivious to the world around them.

The impression I get of the dude on the other end of the Chrome ads, on the other hand, is of someone kind of pathetic. It’s not entirely clear, but he seems to have sent not a single but multiple messages to his ex, each one requiring a different Google service to view. He’s clearly obsessed with this girl, but perhaps equally obsessed with Google itself. Not a single Web site or application from another company is ever shown. He might want to get out more. Maybe visit some clubs, listen to a little dubstep. I hear it’s a good way to meet women.

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