Midweek Media: Best Buy’s “Get a Geek”

This one’s been on our radar, but was also prompted by a note from Spartakos.

The commercial opens up with a Best Buy salesman with two customers, a woman and a teenaged boy. They stand in the laptop section. We see various models, and also a yellow sign that reads: Buy a Laptop, Get a Geek. There’s whimsical music playing. The viewer is coming in at the end of the sale, as the teenager says, “Man, this is perfect.”

The salesguy says, “Great, well, with every laptop, you get a geek, so…” with a close up of the sign. The salesguy then points to the left and up, and begins walking as he says, “take your pick.”

The woman and boy follow the salesguy and the camera pans to reveal a wall filled with people – the set up is similar to what Barbie dolls are sold in – clear, Plexiglas pods line a wall and like-dressed individuals wearing Geek Squad trademarked black pants, white shirts and black ties are inside.

“Wow, look at all these fabulous geeks!” the woman says. “There’s so many.”

We see a close up of a male geek, Asian. Then another male, white. The camera zips past a bright orange sign the woman reads from, “Look at this one, it helps you videochat with mom.” The camera pans to reveal the geek in question, male, black, with his arms crossed.

We then see the boy pause in front of a different case. His expression is … rapt. The camera angles to reveal the geek that has caught his interest. It’s a woman, white, with her hair in a messy up-do and wearing black plastic-framed glasses. She is traditionally attractive, and her mouth is slightly open, her lips full.

“Bingo,” the boy says, and points at her with two fingers. The female geek’s face can still be seen as a reflection on the Plexiglas she’s encased in.

We cut back to the mother, who repeats, “Look at this one, you can videochat with me, honey.” The salesguy stands behind her, looks to be pondering the geek she’s chose.

The teenager ignores the mother. He has inched closer to the glass, and now stands facing it directly with his head tilted. “Mom, go get the car,” he says.

The next shot is the mother and salesguy in the forefront, framing the shot of the boy standing in front of the woman geek, looking awed, perhaps. “He’s in such a hurry to learn,” the mother says with an odd chuckle.

The screen goes white, with the text “Buy a laptop. Get text support.” and a voiceover of, “Buy any laptop and get Geek Squad support for six months. Online, on the phone or in-store.” The Best Buy logo replaces the text, with the words, “Buyer be happy.” under it.

**

I don’t think any of you would be surprised to hear what my reaction to this spot is. I’m pretty sure the first time I saw it, my jaw dropped a little. What do you think?

Comments

  1. eloriane says

    For about three seconds I was SO EXCITED that there was a female geek! Breaking stereotypes, yeah! But then I noticed that she came with “bonus accessories” and it all went downhill from there. Ugh.

    What do the actual female Best Buy geeks think of this? It can’t possibly do anything but make their already-difficult job even harder.

    • sbg says

      Thank you for pointing out the bonus accessories. I somehow missed that, though I think several of the male geeks have them too.

  2. says

    I’ve got this study on my mind where traditionally beautiful women had it harder to seem competent for jobs where attractiveness wasn’t deemed important (attractive men had it easier in all cases, naturally) – so maybe the ad is trying to show that beautiful women can be geeks, too?

    Yeah, I know, that’s far-fetched. Especially since we see nothing about that woman except for her attractiveness. It doesn’t say she’s the expert for LAN connections, or php programming or whatever. It’s not important; the only that counts is she’s attractive. And mom is clueless, naturally, about her son’t boner.

    • sbg says

      Ah, your link doesn’t work. But I’m familiar with that study – and I have to say I found it a tad ridiculous. That’s probably because I’m an average-looking woman, so a whole study dedicated to how beautiful women had it so rough for not being able to get a job as a security guard seemed frivolous to me. ;)

      I don’t think the mom was clueless about her son’s behavior. I saw her little “he’s so excited to study” and small laugh as an attempt to somehow pretend he wasn’t just being a horndog. Also: her role in the whole ad could be seen as another stereotype of women – the clingy mother who refuses to let her children (specifically the boys) grow up.

      • says

        Strangely enough, the link works for me only when I click on i twice – the second time it gets me to the study.
        It’s just that I just read about this on a German blog, that’s why it was on my mind. :)

        • says

          That IS bizarre. The first time you click, it brings up a home page. Click another time, and there’s an article. *shrug*

          I also saw the mom as in denial and enabling rather than clueless, which irritated me almost as much as anything else in the commercial.

  3. Fey says

    I can honestly say that my jaw literally dropped, and more than a little.

    The more I consider it, the more things I find that are wrong.

  4. Robin says

    My thoughts can pretty much be boiled down to, “Ew.”

    I get that it’s supposed to be cute, but when they combine the selling / giving away of people with the fantasy stereotype of the hot nerd girl (a modern day naughty librarian, if you will), it just compounds the creepiness. Lack of autonomy is not sexy, guys.

  5. Anemone says

    My first reaction, reading the description, was eww, too. Then viewing it made it even worse, because I was expecting a teenager shorter than mom, not one who was really tall, and, you know, almost a man. Too much like trafficking for my tastes, thanks.

    Not to mention how much harder it already is for female geeks.

  6. says

    Step right up and don’t be shy,
    because you will not believe your eyes.
    She’s right here behind the glass
    and you’re gonna like her,
    ’cause she’s got class.
    You can look inside another world.
    You get to talk to a pretty girl.
    She’s everything you dream about…

    –The Tubes, “She’s a Beauty” circa 1984

    And having just re-watched the video, I think maybe that would make a good Midweek Media.

  7. says

    Tha male geeks look like models, not geeks, so the girl’s look just sort of go with the rest of the lot.
    BTW, the “bonus accessories” tag is on EVERY geek, not just the girl. (see 0:08-0:13).

    • sbg says

      Please see Robin’s comment. Also, the male model singled out for purchase (EWWW to the whole concept) was not selected for his looks as the female geek was.

      Not so samey-samey at all, IMHO.

  8. says

    As a geek I find this especially disturbing. We’re gonna harass you as a young person, act like you’re completely incapable of human interaction, make you the butt of jokes at social gatherings/tv/movies, but now that we want to play farmville we sort of have a use for you. Hey, lets buy geek slaves to install windows and teach us how to send emails! Let’s make sure they’re stereotypical too, wouldn’t want the missus to get fired up by his intellect.

    And then the female geek. *Sigh* My head hit the desk the first time I saw it. Ugh, on sooooo many levels. (Cutesy enabler mom did not help matters at all.)

  9. says

    Can anyone decipher what she’s good at? The guy next to her “sets up email in a single bound” (or something to that effect). At 0:14 you can see her “ability”, but even 480p make it too hard to read for me.

    Not that the teenager is interested in her ability.

  10. Elee says

    Aaand of course it is a black man who the mom wants to buy, not the white one, because implications of slavery alone wasn’t enough, they needed to top it off with racism. Fail within fail within fail. Totally squicked.

      • Elee says

        Yeah, funny what diverse forms of expression racism takes *snort* Sarcasm is the only way to stay sane. I also didn’t read the kid’s (kid? he looks just a couple of years younger than the mom-actress) attention as “rapt infatuation”, from the description alone I would have thought there was a little more subconscious flirting involved. But he looks at her too clinical, it is really creepy how he stares her down. I bet he is planning on showing her his basement.

      • Robin says

        “That’s diversity in action.”

        Yeah. I mean, the first one they show in close-up is Asian. That’s not racist… at… oh. Darn.

  11. AlsoKT says

    I am not currently a Best Buy geek – I’m currently unemployed and geeky, so I was considering it. I have been an Apple Genius, and you probably won’t be in the least surprised that obnoxious douches are quite eager to use EVEN COMPLETELY ASEXUAL brand slogans as ammunition.

    “Is there an app for you?”

    “If you’re a Mac, and I’m a PC, can we still network?”

    “Can I buy you a drink at the Genius Bar?”

    And so forth.

    And, you know, I don’t think I want to apply to Best Buy now. Not if this is what they’re handing out to the creeps to use against me. Shit! I need a job!

    • Robin says

      Oh, gross. I’m so sorry anyone did that to you.

      I will admit that my friends and I occasionally say similar things to each other, but it’s in a completely over-the-top way with people we already know will be amused by such things. Getting that as a serious pickup line from a stranger is just creepy.

      Good luck with your job hunt.

      • AlsoKT says

        Oh, no, under other circumstances, like among friends or even most co-workers, those things would be reasonably clever and mildly funny or at least cheesy enough for a laugh. It’s when you’re stuck there for eight hours at a stretch, these are total strangers, and the deal is “be nice or lose sales and possibly your job” that it gets really gross.

        Which is why I don’t appreciate companies writing scripts for harassment like this.

        Thanks for the good wishes!

  12. says

    What also bothers me is the fact that the kid orders his mum to go and get the car. Even if he is the one paying, and I assume he isn’t on account of his mum being there, it is still not okay to order your mum to go and get the car.
    Along with all the other fail. That ad is totally squicky, the selling people and everything.

    • jennygadget says

      Yeah, and it just emphasizes the whole idea that the Geek herself is being in order bought to be ordered around – not that her time and services are being bought for her technical skills.

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