How Hewlett Packard ruined Ghostbusters for me

I like silly

I love films. I’m quite happy to suspend disbelief for a couple of hours and watch something silly. That’s how I found myself sat in the cinema with my kids last week waiting to watch the remake of Ghostbusters.

I was in a good mood until this advert for Hewlett Packard Enterprise appeared on the screen…

Here’s the dialog, for those who can’t watch the video. I suggest you do watch it to soak up the appalling smugness of the whole affair…

Businessman 1: “98352”

Businessman 2: “What’s that?”

Businessman 1: “The number of units we will make next month to maximise earnings.”

Businessman 2:”That’s a projection?”

Businessman 1: “No, it’s a fact. Based on hundreds of proprietary and open data sets folded into a real-time actionable analytics model.”

9 – 8 – 3 – 5 – 2″

Businessman 2:”You’re not going to round that up?”

Businessman 1: “You don’t round up facts.”

Slick voiceover: “Powerful analytics. Driving decisions for the worlds most valuable brands”

I’m less keen on ludicrous

I must be turning into a grumpy old man. I had to stop and think why this irritated me SO intensely. Here are my reasons…

  1. The complete lack of honesty about data accuracy. Just because you use “hundreds of proprietary and open data sets folded into a real-time actionable analytics model” does not make something a “fact.” Most organisations don’t even know precisely how many people they pay to work there on a daily basis or even precisely how many widgets they made yesterday, let alone those they need to make next week.
  2. “You don’t round up facts”. Clearly the author of this particular commercial has never heard of “pi”. As an irrational number, is always rounded to some extent.
  3. Just because you use lots of data to come up with an answer does not make it right. Read this brilliant article on Cold War modelling for a great example of just how wrong gigantic data models can be.

I like fantasy, which is why I was waiting to watch Ghostbusters, but this commercial seemed to have as much to do with real-world KPIs as Jason Bourne has to community policing.

What should a real-world HP advert look like? Should they be brutally honest or is it OK to suggest that their tools really will deliver a ‘Star Trek’ future to those who buy them?

As for Ghostbusters, it was MUCH better than the HP advert. It was my favorite kind of silly.


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