In the ad, Annie relentlessly pursues her dream of flying. Despite initial struggles—she tries jumping off a car roof with an umbrella and taking off from a hillside with homemade wings—she persists. Her trajectory changes as soon as she pulls her laptop from her backpack.
Her dream of flying was no doubt ambitious, but with ingenuity and her Dell laptop, Annie was able to produce a homemade video that showed her soaring over her classmates—including the “no-way-you-can-do-it-ers” and even her rival, Eliza Jones.
The inspiring, minute-long story has been viewed more than 1.4 million times on YouTube and is now considered a standard-bearer of meaningful advertising after TED, a nonprofit promoter of great ideas, named “Annie—the girl who could fly” one of the 10 best global ads of the year.
The winning entries were announced at the TED2013 Conference in California, and will be included in TED’s Ads Worth Spreading annual report.
TED judges sought examples that would promote advertising as a platform for media that can spark change, raise awareness and communicate new thinking.
Allison Dew, vice president of global corporate and consumer marketing at Dell, said the company sought to convey the tremendous power of learning and open a cultural dialog around the potential that technology can unlock, especially for children.
Dew said it’s rare to find an ad that can speak to a worldwide audience, but Dell was able to accomplish that by building a powerful narrative around universal themes.
“We’ve known for a long time the role of technology in helping kids around the world, and that one of the biggest reasons parents buy technology is for their children,” she said.
Making Annie Fly
The genesis of the ad stemmed from a desire within Dell to underscore the crucial role technology plays in education, an aim that at first required some hands-on research.
Joe Rivas, executive vice president of global strategy for the marketing agency Y&R, said the time spent attending after-school programs and doing homework with children led to a revelation.
“We realized that real emotional power wasn’t really what kids were doing in the classroom,” he said. “The real emotional power was when they were making things and doing things and creating things with their own hands.”
The story of Annie—and a girl’s fascination with flight—emerged from that work and provided Dell with a character that would strike an emotional connection with parents who could see traits of their own children in Annie.
Dew explained, “In some way, we can all see a part of ourselves in Annie. Now, more than ever, we are able to achieve what were previously lofty dreams through technology. The message is both empowering and uplifting, and that’s why her story resonates so well.”
Nick Clunn is an award-winning journalist who has worked for several websites and daily newspapers, including The Record in New Jersey. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at Montclair State University. Follow him @NickClunn.Tags: Business,Education,Technology