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Ring My Bell

Why putting a video on your door bell is a shockingly shite idea.

The Blogfather certainly knows what he doesn’t want for Christmas, as he rips into the Ring video doorbell adverts and discovers some lessons in marketing from the pieces.

There’s something not quite right about the Ring video doorbell ads. They’ve been irking me for a while.

The main selling point of Ring is the capability to answer your doorbell when you are not home, via video. With a Ring doorbell ‘you’re always home’, being able to see and speak to whoever is at your door, from anywhere.

Sounds impressive initially, but when looked at more closely, it’s apparent it is about as useful as an Apple Watch Google Glass.

Here's the ad:

Naturally, I went and struck up a live instant messaging chat with Ring, over at their website. 

First question is; why is he down the pub? Seems dodgy. OK, he’s probably got a meeting. Fair enough. Second question is; why doesn’t his wife and kids have a key to the house? Odd.

On viewing the advert more closely, it seems the kids may actually enter the house, so maybe here is where Ring’s usefulness lies; the father has the ability to let them in remotely. Yet this would be some quite advance tech, and knowing the reality of tech, I thought it prudent to look into this further.

Naturally, I went and struck up a live instant messaging chat with Ring, over at their website. Someone called ‘Bo’ answered immediately, probably as it is a bit quiet at Ring on the sales front. Transcript below for your perusal.

So it was a negative on the ‘smart locks’. ‘Maybe in the future!’ says Bo. Yeah, a bit like those Uber self-drive cars, and Amazon delivery drones.

But to continue. It’s not possible to open the door remotely. So we have to assume that the wife and kids did have a key, but just happened to ring the bell. Other than the fact that they are clearly idiots, it seems Ring’s sole use is for having a random video chat with your family at the front door on the off chance that they ring the doorbell when they get home while you’re out having a crafty pint.

Here’s a novel idea; wait until you’re inside the house, out of the cold, and FaceTime instead.

But Bo had sent me a link to another video. This one infers that there is some benefit to interacting with a delivery guy via a video call through your doorbell, if you are not at home. Apart from the fact that she inexplicably advises him to leave it by the front door (and they wonder why they have a high level of doorstep burglaries in Ring-ville), let’s hypothetically go through all the possible outcomes if, heaven forbid, a delivery comes and you don’t have a Ring video doorbell: a) they put a missed delivery card through your letterbox and leave the parcel with your neighbour/at the depot. b) That’s it.

Yet there is a third element to Ring, already touched upon, and arguably the most important; that of safety. The most recent addition to Ring’s advert oeuvre is a gripping piece where a Scouse burglar (great stereotyping Ring), on the pretence of looking for a lost cat, approaches the large house of an overtly sarcastic, middleclass, home counties chap, who happens to be out at the supermarket (probably Waitrose). In an exchange that is fraught with bad acting, the southerner manages to see him off.

Now, I propose that, if a potential burglar sees a Ring doorbell on the front of your gaff, they are going to conclude that, a) you have more money than sense, b) you are never at home, and c) let’s break in by the back door. At best, a Ring doorbell might record your place getting broken into, but why not just invest in some CCTV that covers your whole house?

For all this playful ribbing of Ring, there’s learning to be taken out of it, in a marketing context. The above is a classic example of signalling. You think you are protecting your home, but in reality you are potentially flagging it as a target.

Also, getting lured into the me too trap of tech for tech’s sake. VR. AI. Smart Homes. The tech industry is making some grandiose claims, but don’t get sucked in, as it may not be the right fit for your business and brand. Two years ago there was talk of a Samsung talking fridge that would order milk as it would know when it was running low, or some similar bollocks. A quick look at fridges now on the market didn’t reveal anything so advanced. All I found was a £3k fridge whose top line selling point was, ‘See inside it from anywhere’! Seriously. How many people when out need to look inside their fridge via three different camera angles? We’re obsessed by viewing things at home whilst out, seemingly.

Also, don’t over complicate things, keep things simple. The best ideas are often simple, it’s been said time and time again, but it is repeated for a reason.

One of the Gasp founders, Giles, wrote 6 fails to avoid in marketing, well worth a read, but one of them is pertinent here; too much time is spent solving the wrong problems. No one really needs or wants a video doorbell. The inventor of Ring, Jamie Siminoff, is American. Maybe he got confused by the English phrase; ‘give them a bell’? We just don’t know.

Let’s hope you don’t have the misfortune to find one of these in your stocking for Christmas, and if you are thinking of buying one for yourself, maybe get a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sticker and save yourself a few quid. Maybe good old print isn’t fully dead.

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