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HP launches a laptop in a way even Apple wouldn't dare

HP offers a very different story because, it says, it's not "bombastic" like some competitors. Now, who might that be?
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Screenshot from HP ad of a closeup of a man's face and the same man standing in the back.

Not exactly Tim Cook, is he?

HP/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

PC sales aren't quite what they were during the pandemic.

So, if you're going to interest the world in a new computer, perhaps you need to find a slightly different way of doing it.

But there's different, and then there's, wait -- what is this, exactly?

You may feel the latter sensation upon drinking in the way HP is launching its Omen 16 gaming laptop.

May I offer you a little pre-sell, courtesy of HP ad agency creatives Bertie Scrase and Christen Brestrup?

They told The Drum: "We thought it would be fun to subvert the stereotypes of how the bombastic major tech brands announce their new products and innovations. You know, the ones that celebrate that incredible extra half inch of screen or that life-changing extra MP on your phone's camera."

Now, which bombastic major tech brands could they be referring to? Do you suppose it might be Apple?

Also: I spent a week with a robot cat and my life will never be the same

Well, now you've had the buildup to subversion, here's how HP has done it.

It's dramatizing the fact that the Omen 16 uses ambient air to cool itself. How? By making what some might see as a deliberately dreadful, archaic ad with all the production values of a late-night personal injury lawyer performance.

The ad features a presenter called Michael Prezentashun. He's less Tim Cook and more what might have happened to Bill Nye in another life.

Prezentashun's whole shtick revolves around explaining how marvelous "quality gaming air" truly is.

So here is HP offering free cans of pure air until Oct. 31.

Because, well, does there have to be a huge "because"? HP wants you to buy this gaming laptop and it hopes you'll find this ad funny. So it's suggesting you release this wonderful air near your new Omen 16 laptop.

It's a perfectly reasonable approach and certainly not one Apple would ever contemplate to sell you a MacBook Air.

Also: I had a nightmare about Apple's iPhone 14 Dynamic Island (so I contacted Apple)

What's clear is that there is enormous belief at HP HQ.

Why, the company's head of global gaming and software marketing, Ladd Martin, mused: "With this campaign, we want to show gamers everywhere why our new Omen 16 laptop deserves high-quality, artisanal air for the ultimate gaming experience."

Yes, Ladd. We believe you. We all deserve high-quality artisanal air. Indeed, HP is making an enormous contribution to improving the quality of our environment by planting 0.0001% of the trees needed for the One Trillion Tree Challenge.

I feel sure, though, that your greater concern is whether the Omen 16 laptop is really good or whether this ad is just hot air. 

I wonder which laptop Michael Prezentashun has at home. Probably an old Dell, I think.

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