Dell's Adamo marketing: Through the looking glass

Marketing can be very revealing, in a sort of house-of-mirrors kind of way. If you are the target for that marketing effort, it can tell you quite a bit about what the company doing the marketing thinks of you, and, my extension, how that company sees the world. Take, for instance, the marketing campaign for the Dell Adamo, which is, according to the conventional wisdom, Dell's attempt to go up against the Macbook Air. So what, then, does Dell think about the Air's audience?

To answer this question, take a look at the Adamo by Dell Web site, which is hands down the most hilarious marketing effort I've ever seen -- not intentionally hilarious, mind you. With fashion models in ridiculously impractical clothes toting around the aforementioned shiny, underpowered laptop while ultra-cool music plays in the background, one is led to the conclusion that the Macbook Air appeals to the unbearably upscale aesthete.

There's something to that, but I think that Dell's marketers have wildly misinterpreted that aesthete's aesthetic. I'd peg Mac fans as not the types to spend a lot of high fashion, but instead spent a lot on, say, vintage hoodies and Puma sneakers. But a bigger problem comes with a quote from a Dell rep that they "are positioning the Adamo as a fashion statement." That's a common stereotype of Apple users, but I don't think it's necessarily true. I think Mac users like systems that work elegantly, with hardware and software operating together seamlessly and with few glitches, even if that means the systems are pricier and don't have the same raw specs as competitors. That's not at all the same thing as calling one's computer "a fashion statement." But it's an attitude that frustrates a certain breed of techie, who likes everything quantifiable; since elegance can't be quantified easily, it gets dismissed as "fashion," with disastrous results like the Dell Adamo. I'm interested to see how sales go; I'm betting not well.

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