I get it. You’re trying to market a product that’s inherently uninteresting or difficult to explain, so regular forms of communication are no good. This is the challenge VMware — a company that specialises in virtualisation software — likely faces on a daily basis. So what’s a sales department to do? Cook up a bunch of sci-fi parodies in podcast form, taking the piss out of everything from The Matrix and Star Wars, to TRON and 2001.
Before you start crapping on it, VMware’s crack at the podcasting game is no “Welcome to Night Vale”. But it does an admirable job of walking the line between not taking itself seriously, while still sneaking in references to VMware’s business.
A story by ZDNet’s Stephanie Condon goes deeper into VMware’s reasons for commissioning the podcast, which was produced by “SciFutures”, a creative firm that specialises in “science-fiction prototyping to help accelerate innovation”… whatever that means:
For VMware, SciFutures was tasked with using science fiction to convey the benefits of network virtualization and business mobility. “For example,” [Nicole] Valencic from VMware explained, “being able to scale up and down based on the needs of the network, to troubleshoot problems, handle network security issues — network virtualization is just a much better solution for that.”
The article goes on to describe the common trait of the podcasts, one that sounds like SciFutures took a page from the Rick and Morty playbook:
Each episode features two characters — an old-school IT guy named Chuck and his young partner Ravi — who are transported into the classic sci-fi stories to help with technical challenges.
Here’s a couple of the podcasts, if you’d like to have a listen.
I can’t say that VMware’s attempt to educate and entertain via podcast will work, but the fact it’s willing to try something a bit different is commendable. At the very least, we all got some decent laughs out of it.