You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …
Hey, you want some of that sweet Dell action? Your boy Steven can hook you up.
Dell made quite a few commercials with this character, Steven. He was a walking contradiction of a pitchman. Highly energetic about promoting Dell, while his voice exudes laid-back chillness. Seems like kind of a doofus kid, but has loads of computer info memorized. And you can never quite tell if he’s being sincere or mocking you at any given moment.
One YouTube commenter (going by the name “thanksfernuthin”) put it best: “For a guy that appeared aggressively annoying, he was disarmingly charming. It was confusing and a pleasant surprise.”
This particular ad is my favorite of the Steven the Dell Dude Saga, because it’s got something extra going on. It’s not just Steven touting the benefits of Dell in his distinctive style; there’s an implication that he and his friend William arranged for Steven to “accidentally” run into William’s mom while she’s computer shopping, so he could schmooze her into choosing Dell.
That’s a brilliant way of giving Dell some “forbidden fruit” appeal. It creates the idea that Dell computers are something teens desperately want, but that they need to bamboozle their parents into buying, perhaps with the help of a cool, smooth-talking friend.
They don’t go into what unsavory motives these teens have that they need to obfuscate from their parents. They just create the impression that, if you talk your parents into buying a Dell, you’ll be getting away with something.
Getting away with what, you may not know. But just the vague idea that Dell is something your parents wouldn’t want you to have … that can make anything seem irresistible.