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Facepalm: In an advertising campaign that could be described as either bold or a bit like when Kevin Spacey released his Let Me Be Frank YouTube video, ads for the much-loathed HP are running in Europe that essentially admit printers are hated by most people – but its products are "Made to be less hated."
Running in the Nordics, Benelux, Ireland, and the UK, the ads cover several well-known printer issues most of us have faced. The first of these shows a worker struggling to operate her printer, noting that "I did everything you asked for – and now this. No." She then throws the printer out of the window as the ad boasts of "No more installation fails with the HP Smart app."
It's certainly a brave move from HP to sing the praises of the HP Smart app just days after it started appearing for no reason in Windows 10 and 11. People with no HP products or printers were seeing it, too. For those with printers, many found the app was renaming their devices to "HP LaserJet M101-M106," even the non-HP ones.
While that might be mostly Microsoft's fault, the anger towards HP is there by association. What is 100% on HP, though, is the firmware update it pushed out earlier this year that bricked its printers to the extent that they couldn't even be factory reset.
The next ad is probably the most audacious of the three. In it we see a man internalizing his hatred while a Low Ink warning light blinks on his printer. He then kicks it off his desk as a message about "No more low ink with HP ink solutions" flashes up.
The man's frustration in the ad might have been greater had it been an HP printer, given that the company has faced a class-action lawsuit over claims it was shutting down multifunction printers when the ink was low, even if users weren't trying to print anything.
Then there's the mention of ink solutions. HP blocks customers from using third-party ink cartridges with its printers as part of the company's dynamic security policy, which obviously generates a lot of love. It also has several ink subscriptions that an HP exec recently said were "locking" customers into its services.
The final ad sees a man struggling to connect his printer to the Wi-Fi. It's a promotion for HP's self-healing Wi-Fi that promises no reconnection hassles, something many users would disagree with.
Is this a case of HP owning the hate against it? Many people say they would never buy one of its printers again, so what better way to get ahead of the problem than shrugging one's shoulders and saying, "hey, we're trying here." It might even be working: the company told More About Advertising that this is its most successful campaign ever.