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Can 'eBay for the win' Win Would-be Phone Flippers?

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Can 'eBay for the win' Win Would-be Phone Flippers?

Liam Spradlin

eBay has a new campaign running on TV and online, with the tag line "for the win."

The ad's statement is on point - eBay is a really good place for selling your old phone. The online marketplace is so confident in this that it can make itself more appealing by offering the promise of a $100 coupon if your phone doesn't sell. That's awesome.

What's not necessarily awesome is the way the ad is executed.

Again, the message is good. And it seems like eBay is looking to appeal to viewers with a tech-savvy 20-something who "doesn't settle for second best."

But it gets weird when the lead character hands off the explanation of eBay's offer to his mother, who's standing by in the same room, which also inexplicably has a full-sized office printer and a chair facing the fold-out table desk. Add to that the bluetooth headset and the tag line "eBay for the win," and you get a supremely awkward, somewhat tone-deaf representation either of what eBay thinks their target audience IS, or what their target audience needs to see to be compelled. In my opinion neither target is hit. 

Things get even weirder in a sixty-second spot, in which the apparent entrepreneur moves to the kitchen, where mom conveniently serves up cereal to go with a mug that reads "da boss."

But maybe - just maybe - eBay is relying on the super-awkward quirkiness of the campaign to compel the audience. The outdated "for the win" catch phrase, the out-of-place "unicorn of coupons" line that tastes of hip lingo run through a corporate wringer, and the mom's-living-room-cum-office-space add up to something that - while uncomfortable - may make enough of an immediate impression to get viewers to focus on those simulated cue cards.

Ultimately the only metrics that can bear out the success of this approach are ones we'll likely never see, but the ad is so simultaneously off-putting and interesting that it's worth thinking about. Can eBay's "for the win" campaign actually win?