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Our culture – from music to shopping to politics – is increasingly defined by the activities of a group of enormously powerful technology brands. Google, Facebook, Apple – their services entwine with our lives in constantly evolving ways.

But the ads these modern giants produce have struggled to find ways to speak to that reality with clarity and positive emotion. They’re often cast in the role of gadget salesperson.

It’s a role they often play well. That Chromebook ad for Google got 3-Stars on System1 Ad Ratings, which is a testament to how dynamic they managed to make a set of text claims and illustrations (a kind of powerpoint presentation, pretty much). But the drive to promote features gets in the way of any attempt at emotional storytelling.

Tech companies looking to present a more human face – while keeping their technology front and centre – might take a look at a brand which used to rule the computing universe, IBM. They are still developing, still investing, and still advertising, with a campaign (“Put Smart To Work”) that’s centred on the good that technology does at a down-to-earth, human level.

This ad from the IBM campaign got 4-Stars, and was one of the highest-rated new technology ads in the System1 Ad Ratings database. It was beaten by another, animal-focused IBM campaign which isn’t on the brand’s YouTube page.

The “Smart Recycling” ad marries human interest, a simple, wow-factor innovation (Plastic Bank), and a subtle but powerful visual showing trash as money. It shows IBM as innovative, globally oriented, and emotionally in touch with current issues. It’s no surprise it scored highly.

The kind of earnest advertising IBM does isn’t likely to win creative awards. But it’s more emotionally effective than the approaches the internet-era tech companies are taking.

Find out which of your ads are driving long-term growth. Sign up for Ad Ratings HERE.

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