"How do you do, fellow kids?" When Apple and Google try to be relatable (and often fail)

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
"How do you do, fellow kids?" When Apple and Google try to be relatable (and often fail)
Early this year I shared my frustrations with the unappealing "Corporate Memphis" art style every tech company ever seems to be using these days, but as trends go, there's another one that's way more fun to explore, and much less nightmare-inducing.

Google, Apple, Microsoft and the rest want to be relatable now! They don't want to just be a cold, corporate name without any identity in your eyes, but your friend. And what's the best way to appear friendly and less corporate to the average internet user, but to use memes and write relatable things? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but at least they're trying.

Let's take a look at some fun (sometimes for all the wrong reasons) attempts from big tech to appear relatable, and you can judge for yourself whether it's working or it's just super out of touch. Most importantly, let's have some fun!

Google's trained monkey squad

At some point in our lives, surely most of us internet users have seen Google's notorious "500 Internal Server Error" page, proclaiming that "a team of highly trained monkeys have been dispatched to deal with this situation."

Now, I actually do love this monkey error page, because anything is better than getting a generic server error message. Although one has to wonder whether Google's programmers really enjoy being called trained monkeys.

But hey, that's the same company that had "Don't be evil" in its Code of Conduct… and then, uh… removed it. We might have a bunch of evil monkeys on our hands.

Probably hyperactive monkeys too, considering how someone at Google loves telling us that they're drinking way too much coffee… Drinking coffee is relatable, right?

Google's YouTube staff loves coffee, taking the afternoon off, and cats. And wants you to know it!

I fondly remember drinking coffee and seeing the yet-another YouTube app update with a typical vague "bug fixes" description, ending with an unusual "drank way too much coffee".

Now that I can totally relate with! I wonder who at Google wrote it. Is it the person that actually pushed the app update, or was it a PR person? Whoever they are, ease up on the coffee, friend. But I feel ya.

Things get a bit confusing when YouTube starts repairing the space-time continuum and exploring the edges of the known universe

By now we are well aware that whoever updates Google's YouTube app loves drinking coffee, but are they mixing it with some illegal substances or what?

Because the following updates go way overboard with descriptions such as "repairs to the space-time continuum" and even exploring "the edges of the known universe". I don't condone taking magic mushrooms but who knows what's happening over there at YouTube's offices.

Recommended Stories
YouTube's headquarters are in San Bruno, California, which is a pretty liberal state. I remember reading that it was close to decriminalizing psychedelic drugs, but… Anyways, moving on.

Apple be like: "The internet loves cats, right? Let's hammer that in."

In case you weren't aware that cat videos and cats in general are famously the internet's favorite thing, Apple is here to remind you. Like Google, the iPhone maker often uses cats to appear more relatable.

For example, check out Apple's App Store notes for the Reddit app, which has the word "kittens" repeated about a thousand times. And that's a joke that definitely, for sure gets funnier the more you repeat it.

Now is that relatable or is it just an out-of-touch attempt at being relatable? Who's to say? In any case, it's nice seeing Apple, which is usually pretty straightforward in its presentation, try to act human. Even if it feels like Tim Cook asked a PR artificial intelligence to write this, and only gave the AI one directive – "kittens".

If you say Google Pixel, someone might think you said "pickle"...

This line stuck with me, and it's from a Google Pixel ad that the company removed, but I wrote about it, and how most of it was just Google mocking LG, so we still have the full line as it was:

"When you say "Pixel" someone might think you said "pickle" and give you one. Boom! Free pickles!"

And trust me, the entire ad, which was a long one, had "knee-slappers" like this.

Why did this now-removed ad stuck with me so vividly? Because it's definitely one that I felt tried way too hard to be relatable and ended up bordering on cringe. The fact that it made fun of LG for quitting the phone market was just icing on the cake.

Humor like this just seems way too safe and unrelatable to me, clearly coming from a corporate PR team. But, perhaps it works on most users, and if so, more power to Google!

But yeah… No one's gonna think you said "pickle"... And don't ever pickle your Pixel. See? I can make bad jokes too. Didn't even need a team for that.

IMDb is shocked that you somehow managed to break it

So I got this message just a few days ago when trying to look up a movie. I opened its IMDb user reviews page and was met with a giant "D'oh!' error for the first time in my life. What an experience!

The page basically requested that I refresh it, with kind of odd wording. And most sentences ended with a full stop, but one doesn't, so that's interesting. But again, anything is better than a generic error page.

I assume this is just the web developers having some fun. I doubt their leaders even know about those error messages. And hey, I'm glad I'm not the only one who writes "yep" instead of "yup".

Someone at Samsung tried to take a jab at Apple. Tasteless? You decide

In August we reported that Samsung seemingly mocked the late Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder. A description in Samsung’s iTest app said the following:

"Samsung users are all unique and they like their phone to be unique too. No turtleneck wearer should dictate how your phone looks."

Well, the "turtleneck wearer" has been gone since 2011, so it's kind of weird that this jab isn't at least targeted at Tim Cook, who's Apple's current, and perhaps more importantly alive CEO.

Maybe whoever wrote this didn't have bad intentions, but regardless, this is pretty mean-spirited, not to mention way outdated. And when a company goes this far to attack its rival, it really starts feeling petty and unnecessary.

YouTube's Twitter account is trying really hard to seem relatable to… teens, probably?

After Google.com itself, YouTube is the second most visited website in the world, and arguably the winner, by far, when it comes to being out of touch with its audience.

But we won't be looking into its notorious YouTube Rewind videos that were some of the most disliked ever, back when YouTube dislikes were a thing (and now conveniently aren't). We'll look elsewhere.

The epitome of a corporate "How do you do, fellow kids?", YouTube's Twitter account is just so fascinating to analyze.

Let's start with how every tweet is written without using capital letters on purpose, because apparently that's relatable. To whom? Teens, I guess? Teens use phones, and phones auto-capitalize sentences, but hey, we'll ignore that and just pretend YouTube's on to something.

The most interesting part, to me at least, is that the YouTube Twitter account often tries to speak as an individual, yet we don't even know who's actually writing those tweets. How can you be personal and relatable if on the surface you're still a faceless corporation? Maybe I'm too cynical or something.

Let me express myself in a "relatable" way like YouTube:

ngl i think this feels super outta touch, hella not fresh tbh.. kids r smarter than this

And what about you, is big tech successful at being relatable to you or not? If you could give those companies' PR teams any advice, what would it be?

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless