Is this the most boring ad ever made?


Forget the Guinness horses, Budweiser's frogs or Diet Coke's shirtless window cleaner. Camera maker Leica offers us - in their own words - "the most boring ad ever made."

Diet Coke's famous advertisement had Etta James sing "I don't want you to be no slave; I don't want you to work all day."

Contrary to that, Leica's advertisement features a man who is a slave to his profession and works all day polishing the new Leica T System; well, the worker is filmed cleaning the device for just shy of 45 minutes.

Leica asks: "Is this the most boring ad ever made? Not if you appreciate obsessive craftsmanship."

Some of Leica's thinking behind why it decided to film a 45-minute aluminium scrub was offered by Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of supervisory board of Leica.

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He quoted what Steve Jobs said when he introduced the iPhone 4: "You gotta see this in person. This is beyond the doubt, the most precise thing, and one of the most beautiful we've ever made. Glass on the front and back, and steel around the sides. It's like a beautiful old Leica camera."

Thus, the care and detail shown in the advertisement emphasizes, according to Kaufmann, that the new Leica camera is the most precise and beautiful device it has ever made.

One viewer responded to the video on Reddit: "Sure, I like the 'boring' take on things, but why insist on polishing. Is that the camera's most important benefit? Why not spend 40 something minutes and show people how it's assembled."

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Richard Exon is one of the founders of Joint, a creative brand and marketing company in London. He gave his verdict to CNBC via email: "At first glance this seems like a bonkers, impractical piece of content. But of course its strength lies in the fact that whilst no-one on earth will watch all of it, plenty of people will talk about the fact that Leica have made it.

"If obsessiveness and attention to detail are key elements of the Leica brand, I guess it's doing its job."

Leica's strategy seems to go against the move in the last few years to appeal to online customers through short, pithy and funny advertisements that can attract people's attention while they're at work with multiple browser tabs open.

Other companies have also benefited from social media trends: while it was not planned, Samsung handed Ellen DeGeneres one of their phones during the Oscars and a selfie she took with other celebrities became the most retweeted tweet in history. Cancer Research recently utilized the "nomakeupselfie" hash tag to raise over £1 million ($1.7 million) in a day.

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Ben Thompson is the co-founder of Hoot Comedy, a comedy production company that creates content for a range of companies. He told CNBC that web videos often need a humorous slant to draw attention: "The joke for Leica is the laborious nature of the work. So to that extent it works, but it's very anorak and niche."

Leica may feel a need to push a new marketing strategy given the recent decline in camera sales. According to the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA), the number of cameras manufactured per year has dropped from 121 million in 2010 to 61 million in 2013. It must be noted that Leica is not included in CIPA's statistical research, but the organization does collate data from major brands such as Olympus, Casio, Canon, Sony, Nikon and Fujifilm.

It would appear that as more and more people use smartphones which have increasingly better cameras, the need for a separate camera product is diminishing.