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HP, Stop Sending Bad Messages to My Kids!

July 12th, 2005 by Bob Bly

My kids are impressionable video game addicts and tech junkies, so you can imagine my dismay at the latest TV commercial from Hewlett Packard.

The spot shows college students in a classroom listening to a professor giving a science lecture.

Voice-over narration suggests that with an HP Pavillion Notebook, you can sit in class, but instead of paying attention to the teacher, listen to music or watch DVDs.

That?s good for HP, who will sell more notebooks to kids motivated to get them for this reason; not so good for the students or the parents footing the tuition bill.

Do any of you have a similar reaction to the HP commercial and its negative message? Or am I being too much of a crank here?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2005 at 11:58 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

99 responses about “HP, Stop Sending Bad Messages to My Kids!”

  1. Peter said:

    I think they’re just trying to cash in on how lucrative mobile media is as an advertising theme. Couple that with a message of flagrant disregard and independence and you’ve got something “hip”, apparently. Considering that the purchasing power of said slackers is little to none, I doubt this will leave a good impression on the people with the cash. Then again, I’m a crank.

  2. TonyD said:

    Cranks of the world unite! My wife and I relegated our TV to the basement a couple of years ago and were surprised to find we didn’t miss it. We watch DVDs on our computer instead. Now I can’t stand to watch TV any more. The commercials get me too worked up!

  3. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    Bob, at least HP isn’t trying to be deceptive. They are simply taking product benefits and relating them to the beliefs, interests and desires of the target audience. We may not like the fact that college kids enjoy music, goofing off, and even being a little mischievous at times. But does that mean we can’t use those attributes to sell to them?

    P.S. My kid is only nine. So I may feel differently in a few years!

  4. Don Marti said:

    The tech industry can pitch all the high-tech goof-off tools to kids it wants. The problem starts when the “Computers in Schools” pitch makes school boards blow their budgets on machines that make teachers waste class time dealing with pointless details of applications that are going to be obsolete next year instead of covering material that has more enduring value.

    Since teachers and school staff aren’t computer experts, any student who tries something new on a computer gets suspended for “hacking”, and the computers become brittle, useless indoctrination machines.

    Keep computers “outlaw”, out of the classroom, and off the school budget and calendar.

  5. Pamela Kock said:

    Can you REALLY sit in a college classroom with an open laptop these days? My my, how things have changed since I was in school. From my old-fogey perspective, I’d sell the benefit of typing class notes instead of feverishly jotting them into a notebook, because that would have been a dream come true for me and my writers’ callus. OTOH, I could’ve sat there and played solitaire – and I remember doing just that in my PageMaker design class. Kids will find ways to goof off no matter where they are or what equipment is available. I really doubt those HP commercials are going to encourage that kind of misbehavior more than it already exists – it’ll get laughs from those college kids, who will think, “gosh, as if I could get away with that!”

  6. Joel Heffner said:

    A student can diligently use a computer to write notes in class…or goof off and listen to music. Any student wearing a headset would probably attract the attention of the professor. As for HP, they are trying to sell computers. Unfortunately, they think (probably correctly) that this method will work better than if they showed a student typing classnotes on the laptop.


  7. Bob Bly said:

    Joel: I know what HP is doing. But is it right? Durex will sell more condoms urging junior high students to have sex, but would that make it acceptable?

  8. Mike Arnzen said:

    An outrageous ad, in very poor taste. I just saw it on TV and, as a college teacher, was very troubled. You can read my reaction at Pedablogue:

  9. Sally said:

    I’ve been so insulted by this commercial that it almost sends my blood boiling. I’m a teacher (law school), and I teach to students who all have laptops. This summer session I taught a class that met for 4 hours on one day. The thought that a computer company – and thank God I’m typing this on a Compaq, not an HP – is encouraging students to watch DVDs while their time, their tuition, and my voice are being used up, is absolutely disgusting to me (and fortunately, none of my students fell for it – at least, I didn’t hear any music, nor see any of the students wearing headphones.) My two hopes for HP: loss of market share (esp. from those parents who shell out money for the computers and tuition); and the joys of listening of seeing company executives totally ignore them and watch movies instead, when they pitch the latest ad campaign.

  10. Hank said:

    Let me be even more explicit. (I’ve been downloading parts of this ad for several days in hopes I can put together a compilation tape with the fighting frogmen, the punk-metal band, and the cyclists cum dumb ass students sans the explicit HP ad stuff.) I’m going to intercut this with stuff from the Mr. Hand – Mr. Spicoli scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Show it in some of my classes.

    You see, we have this little problem at most teaching campuses. It’s where the IT folks (who have generally gotten too big for their britches– and tend to be overly arrogant in their dealings with faculty) sell….the Next Big Thing. Mandatory laptops with a laptops in the classroom concept.

    For some reason parents and students cream their jeans at this (and stupid MEANINGLESS things like “most wired” ratings), even though it means that they’ll have to shell out a grand or more for a laptop if they don’t already have one that’s up to specs. This is the fetishism of IT-junk. Gone too far on most campuses already.

    WAKEUP. The wi-fi system usually reeks and can hardly support in class stuff– and the ad shows exactly what’ll happen with ubiquitous laptops– it’s bad enough already with cells and text messaging.

    Besides, I can’t think of a way that this REALLY supports meaningful pedagogy. Let’s slow em down and teach em to read, write, and sum.

    Go figure…

  11. Hank said:

    The afront in the ad is that (and this is not just a matter of different points of view viz: professor-student) stupid pursuits* are highlighted as a desirable alternative to an — interesting– physics lecture. The deep afront is that these kids are negating the idea of college in the first place. Okay, why are they there at all?

    *You can see how the ad copywriters had “fun” with the “students”– really making them out to be super dumbasses. The lecture is not Ben Stein– it’s actually far more interesting than a dopey ordinary lecture.

  12. Raymond said:

    From a 22 Year Old Pretty Fresh out of college:

    1. Laptops don’t really help the learning experience one iota.

    2. College Professors: You think you’re interesting, but only about 15% of the class is really interested.

    3. Kids are going to goof off one way or the other, whether you like it or not. 50s kids: comics inside books, for example.

    4. I haven’t seen a computer used effectively in a teaching situation even once. (Powerpoint hardly counts.)

    That being said: People, you’re reading a blog by a marketer and copywriter, which leads me to believe you’re one of those things. All HP is doing is hitting on the points that will sell a freakin’ computer. Appeal to the ability to take notes faster? Check this out: the majority of kids take *no notes at all.* The rest take sparse notes. This is not because they can’t write.

    Calm down people.

    P.S. Have you checked into a company lately? With all the toys they get, people are playing Solitaire, Snood, Bejeweled or some other innane time wasting game. Case in point: If you’re over the age of 25 and you know what those games are, *someone* is playing them.)

  13. Raymond said:

    Oh, one more thing.

    Parents with children in college: You have no idea what goes on.

    And this is from a good kid.

  14. Nancy said:

    Not sure where Raymond went to school, but I have a twelve-pack of college-age nieces and nephews and one daughter of my own in her junior year. Each of them are dean’s list students at well-respected state or private universities, take plenty of notes, and — coincidence? I don’t think so — pay for at least some or all of their own college tuition. Throughout college (and still today) I was a copious notetaker and, at the ripe old age of 39, still have in my filing cabinets notebooks full of notes from my favorite college classes. (Nerd? Geek? Nah. My senior year in high school I was voted biggest partier, most likely to start a nuclear war, and most likely to become a race car driver — and I still know how to have some serious fun.) My point is, for every silver-spoon slacker watching a DVD during a lecture, there are two other students paying attention, motivated to learn. They are the ones who will succeed, not the kids who are frittering away mom’s and dad’s retirement fund. If the target market was unconscious parents of entitled teens, HP hit the nail on the head. The shame doesn’t go to HP (even though the ad sounds gross). It goes to parents who cultivate a culture of entitlement (tuition, electronic gadgets, “me-time”) in their soon-to-be adult children.

  15. Fern said:

    My husband just graduated from b-school (columbia). Laptops were mandatory. Many students disrespectfully played solataire, e-mailed friends, and surfed the Web during class. (This is after they walked in late, holding a Starbucks coffee, walking directly in front of the professor.)
    What is the matter with these kids — and why do the professors allow it?
    While I cann see how laptops are a necessary part of college life, I think they should be banned from the classrooms. (Typing their handwritten notes into Word is a great way to reinforce what was learned during class. I’m a former special education teacher — so I speak from experience.)

  16. dunnothename said:

    # 17
    My husband just graduated from b-school (columbia). Laptops were mandatory. Many students disrespectfully played solataire, e-mailed friends, and surfed the Web during class. (This is after they walked in late, holding a Starbucks coffee, walking directly in front of the professor.)
    What is the matter with these kids – and why do the professors allow it?
    While I cann see how laptops are a necessary part of college life, I think they should be banned from the classrooms. (Typing their handwritten notes into Word is a great way to reinforce what was learned during class. I’m a former special education teacher – so I speak from experience.)




    LIVE A LIFE – LEARN THROUGHOUT … (teachers arent exeption … just the students that got their degrees … with attitudes)

  17. Cameron said:

    Does anyone know a spot on the web where this commercial can be seen?

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