A Word From Your Sponsor

This is a Best Buy commercial. There is also a 30 second version. But I like this longer version for a bunch of reasons; it captures the big vision behind Foursquare, it showcases a father/son relationship, it includes a great piece of advice (avoid the haters), and Dennis is rocking a Galaxy S3 in the commercial.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Dale Allyn

    This has been running in our area for some time now. I was surprised it hadn’t come up in conversation here yet. Dennis did a great job.

    1. fredwilson

      the 30 second version, right?

      1. Dale Allyn

        Right, sorry, I should have clarified. I like the long version, too. The addtional content is very good. Dennis’ dad did great, too.

      2. John Revay

        30 second one in CT (New York market)

        1. William Mougayar

          It’s been playing in Canada continuously too.

  2. John Revay

    I saw this on fredwilson.vc last nightI really enjoyed his father’s comments – especially how proud his dad was went he was invited back to speak at commencement.Side note:I am not sure who I want to come back as @fredwilson or @dens

  3. Cam MacRae

    I saw it on your other blog. Thought it was an ad for Syracuse, the Best Buy thing threw me — heck I was even angry for a fraction of a second — but then I thought that’s actually a pretty cool endorsement of the sector and I hope they’re running it as a TVC.

  4. mikenolan99

    First thing I did was send this to my son Jack… he’s off to NYC to take an amazing 12 week programming course. His dream is to create the next great thing.Thanks for sharing, and helping make the magic happen.

    1. William Mougayar

      It is inspirational for young people definitely.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        …and inspirational for parents.

        1. William Mougayar

          Very true too.

    2. fredwilson


    3. Cam MacRae

      Fantastic! Should be a great experience for him. How old is he?

      1. mikenolan99

        Jack is 21 years old, and a senior at the University of Minnesota studying computer science. He’s the kind of kid who just set up a server from old junk PCs he found in my garage.The name of the school is http://flatironschool.com – looks very cool. Over 200 applicants for 20 slots.I like the disruptive feel of the school, and the speed of learning.Jack has been a bit frustrated by the pace at the U of M – he watches a ton of lectures on iTunes. He’s currently working at Linkup.com coding as an intern – but is eager to do more.Of course, I’m worried he wont finish college. When did I become my dad?

        1. Cam MacRae

          I wish I’d made it to NYC at 21. It took me until 28 to get there and it was transformative. First visit I spent 6 weeks walking the Manhattan grid rain, hail, or shine — only missed a bit of Washington Heights and above as it didn’t seem prudent to aimlessly wander around there at the time. One day I might tick off the dozen or so streets I’m missing.Flatiron does look very cool. Most comp. sci programmes don’t seem to bother with vocational training, which given coding is both a trade and craft I think is something of an omission; very few graduates go on to become comp. sci. professors after all.He’s entering a field that values experience first and foremost, and he seems to be going about things the right way, so I’m not convinced it’s all bad if he doesn’t finish. Still, I hope he finishes — at minimum a degree confers additional job mobility.I hope Jack has a great time.

        2. greggdourgarian

          New York is great but for mobile development there is no pace faster than right back here in Minneapolis.

          1. mikenolan99

            So true… I am so impressed with http://nerdery.com/ and http://code42.com/Not to mention Best Buy is a good old Minnesota company!I’m sure Jack will come home and find an exciting gig. I’m hoping he’ll stay a full time student for a while, at least till he graduates.

          2. greggdourgarian

            have him look me up when he comes back…tx

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Mike — One of my favorite aspects of this commercial is the Dad — so I was especially pleased to find this comment at the top of the thread (and your follow-up response to @cammacrae:disqus). In one way or another, the parents of these founders who are making such a huge impact are a part of the story.I am thinking about this as I raise kids who within the next decade will be making career choices. I want to ensure that the idea of starting a company or creating “the next best thing” is part of their thinking. Whether or not they choose this, I want them to realize that they have this option — or at least the option of trying.I used to dream about someday hiring my kids. Now I wonder if it may be the other way around.

      1. mikenolan99

        The hardest conversation I ever had was with Jack. I used to own radio stations, and Jack grew up going to parades and messing around with sound effects. He was ten when I sold the stations.I took over one when my Dad retired – and I too grew up at the stations, working as a DJ, Janitor and lawnmower in High School.So when I sat Jack down on the stairs one night and told him we had sold the stations, he cried. He had dreamed of working with me someday.I sold a software company 6 years later, just when he started programming. He never had a chance to help out.I can’t wait for the day that I beg him to let me work at his company.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          I am loving this story more and more.Obviously this entrepreneurial thing is part of your family legacy.

          1. mikenolan99

            Now… if anyone has a couch he can sleep on near mid-town, let me know!

      2. ShanaC

        If they hire you, that would be a good thing. And don’t sweat it. I met this guy recently (actually it was the second time I met him) who ended up following his passions to Berlin to do music because of a random fluke in New Orleans. You never know what situations people will end up in – fate has a huge role too.(ok, so it is singer of the only band I go out of my way to find concerts of, I got randomly lucky…)

  5. LE

    This is a fantastic commercial! I really really liked it.(I was a little confused when his father said “so they don’t become mayor” with his accent and I had to replay that several times to understand what he meant.)

    1. Richard

      Mayaah πŸ™‚

    2. JLM

      .So one has to inquire — did THEY build this business?Vision is what the entrepreneur has and no government or blacktop road can fake it for them.This commercial shows the importance of the American entrepreneur in creating business success..

  6. Richard

    If you never used Foursquare, is this the pitch that gets someone to stop and download the app?Β 

    1. JamesHRH

      No. It sells,the high level message. it sells smartphones too.Lots of people would argue Best Buy not highlighted enough too.However, IMO, and this style of ad should comprise about 10% of Best Buy’s budget. It reminds people that tech is amazing & associates BB w ‘getting tech right’ – a big fear for non adopters is wasting lots of money on useless gadgets.DC very strong fit – & his storytelling is compelling – with magic of tech theme

      1. Richard

        It’s very compelling to those of us in the “tech beltway” and entrepreneurial. My point is that Foursquare is a great product not a great brand (yet) so why have mr and mrs tv watcher guess why Foursquare can make their life more engaging ? If this were an add for Georgetown Cupcake and ovens would it seem as compelling?

        1. JamesHRH

          Non techies know how to find out about Georgetown Cupcakes – they have friends, they read reviews in papers, they still use YP, etc.tThe magic is that anyone (using 4Sq & a smartnphne obv) can know everything about where there are wherever they are…..there is no alternative solution that can do that.Need a smart phone ( not a phone ) to do that ( BB angle ) & 4SQ is one of those things that non-techies have heard of but don’t get or use.4sq is an excellent choice by BB for that reason alone ( it is not mainstream yet & has a magical angle to pitch to non techies ) but the fact that DC ( & DC’s Dad ) are so strong would have made this a slam dunk for BB CMO.IMO.

        2. kidmercury

          imho mr and mrs tv watcher probably wont ever download foursquare, but they’ll come to experience foursquare data in other ways. so foursquare may not need to concern themselves with appealing to them.

          1. Richard

            I disagree. There is a legitimate battle for the minds and wallets of Β non techies. Preweb it was the yellow pages, who will be on mobile? Is it Β Foursquare ? It is it yelp or Angie’s list? With all due respect to Dennis’s dad, Β talking about becoming the mayor is not the sell. Making the best use of the Β one night per week you have with your wife is! Dennis’s dad being able to talk about his great night out with his buddies the next day is. No running in circles when it come to having fun when there is Foursquare.Β 

          2. Donna Brewington White

            My husband is mr tv watcher without the tv. Will not even THINK of using 4sq, but last night we went to a movie and he actually asked me “Did you check in here? Second time he has done this in the past couple of weeks. Ha!

    2. fredwilson

      Maybe not. But that’s because this is a Best Buy commercial not a Foursquare commercial. But I do think it helps promote Foursquare

      1. Richard

        I agree, now get Best Buy to preinstall or install at time of purchase and you have something to bank on. I love the ad, Im just not sure fourquare is a broad based “brand” quite yet (I founded a line of juice bars in DC inside of Wholefoods and had a foursquare sign on the counter and promoted it heavily and was shocked to see how many people didn’t quite get it.)

      2. paramendra

        And to think the guy made money doing this! πŸ™‚ There’s paid advertising, there is free advertising, and then there is this thing that Dennis Crowley @dens does.

        1. fredwilson

          I doubt he was paid to do this

          1. Manish

            First of all Thanks a lot Fred for this insanely inspiring video you shared with us!!. I was just wondering if anyone can help me find out the background score used in this commercial? That simply gives you goosebumps and brings the beauty to the whole ad!! Appreciate all the help on this.

          2. fredwilson

            i don’t recognize it

        2. dens

          fwiw – we got paid for the shoot, tho we donated the money to Camp Interactive, a non-profit here in NYC that teaches inner-city kids tech skills. http://campinteractive.org

          1. ShanaC

            you are a mensch in my book, dennis

          2. Dale Allyn

            Nicely done, Dennis. A class act (and action).

          3. paramendra

            I stand corrected. There is paid advertising, there is free advertising, then there is this thing Dennis Crowley could have done (keep the mo – I’d have, just for the kicks), and then there is this thing Crowley actually does: Get big names to pay to advertise FourSquare in a big way and give the money to charity.

      3. Daman Bahner

        Yeah, this does a lot for FourSquare in the age range of Dennis’s Dad. I am pretty sure most of the 13-30 range is pretty familiar with it, even if they haven’t used it, they’ve seen people publish check-ins to Facebook for a while now. Best Buy is on the losing end of a paradigm shift in the retail market. It’s nice for them to sponsor these commercials, but it’s not going to do much for their business.

  7. Wavelengths

    I like this because on another level it speaks to The Great American Dream. (Worldwide Dream, these days!) A few bright people get together, with shared commitment, in the back of a coffee shop and come up with something that affects millions of lives in a positive way.Great story, told well.

  8. LE

    By the way Dennis’s father could easily be a character actor he has so much presence and “it” factor. I can see him playing a detective (good cop) in a police drama.

    1. JamesHRH

      Acorn / tree……

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Another Crowley star is born?

    3. Daman Bahner

      I agree, he gives me a vibe somewhere between Hector Elizondo and Peter Falk.

  9. Dan Munro

    Great ad – but *really* wanted to hear/see more about the Father/Son storyline. That was just awesome! I got the sense that Best Buy was channeling those P&G Olympic ads. The one’s that end: P&G – Proud Sponsor of Moms:http://www.youtube.com/watc

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Brilliant!I used to recruit a lot of “mom’s and kids” marketers and P&G was a prime target for sourcing candidates — they “get” moms and this is further proof.There is something beautiful about a company really getting inside the head and heart of their target market (understanding them, that is).

  10. takingpitches

    For my money, there is no one I know of today that speaks of their vision better, and it’s clear it is because he lives the urban explorer thing through every pore and artery of his being. (and so great to see a proud dad!)

    1. fredwilson


    2. paramendra

      Well put. “…he lives the urban explorer thing through every pore and artery of his being.”

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Great “name.” Are you a VC?

      1. takingpitches

        Thanks Donna! Not a vc, just a NYC guy working on an idea, blogging, and juggling a day job. The name comes from a Warren buffet quote that i find is an useful guide in idea selection:β€œI call investing the greatest business in the world because you never have to swing. You stand at the plate, the pitcher throws you General Motors at 47! U.S. Steel at 39! and nobody calls a strike on you. There’s no penalty except opportunity lost. All day you wait for the pitch you like; then when the fielders are asleep, you step up and hit it.”

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Love it! Thanks for sharing that.Good luck!

  11. LE

    Wow. It also contains all sorts of sexual imagery as well (while many people dispute the use of things like this in advertising as a little rohrschach (ice cubes with sexual shapes as one example) it does exist and of course like any art is open to interpretation.Below are some images that I found, there are others. YMMV.Legend:[1] – Spraying water from fountain in background[2] – Framing of Manhattan next to Dennis looking like a penis[3] – Movement and action of barrista hand juxtaposed with Dennis handling of the phone[4] – Creme and foam pouring into cup.Note, order is reversed ..

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Love / hate subconscious things like this. πŸ™‚

    2. jason wright

      I recommend you take a Rorschach inkblot test.

      1. LE

        Certainly you are not claiming that each visual in a professional advertisement (or an award winning movie) isn’t well thought out and framed for a reason are you?

        1. jason wright

          The only thing I saw that reminded me of anything in particular was the square tower at 1:49, and it wasn’t a subliminal phallic moment. It reminded me of a similar tower I went up at Split in Croatia.I guess some people have a more powerful sexual subconscious than others.The piece presents the company in a positive light. Dennis and his investors would need to be a little bit cracked to be happy to release a piece that projected a negative feeling. It’s smooth. It’s human. It’s not porn πŸ™‚

          1. LE

            Have you ever seen a movie multiple times and started to notice things that you missed seeing the first time?And each time you watch you pick up new things, right? And the creative work morphs and takes on new meaning. You like it more and more and sometimes you know why and sometimes you don’t.Advertisements are run over and over again. Framing and imagery exists for a purpose and not only to win awards.Sometimes you feel something over time with a creative work. Some people won’t feel anything at all. It’s simply not able to have an effect on 100% of the people. (Just like those psychological experiments that are run where 70% of people act one way and 30% don’t).There is a viagra ad that features a man and his mustang riding through the desert with the mustang (old one) overheating. All the scenes are carefully shot and framed (including the casting of the man who is perfect for the target age group I mean they aren’t using Costanza in this role or anything) down to the man pulling into his garage on a suburban street with a large SUV parked next to the mustang (is the man married, is that his wife’s car or his car, hmm?) The tempo is perfect, the look of the old man at the gas station is perfect even the pouring of the water (which the man drinks and uses instead of antifreeze) is perfect.

          2. Dale Allyn

            Kidding aside, I often see such things in design and commerce. I noticed nothing of it in the VDO above (didn’t go back to look either), but it is part of marketing and design at times, certainly.

          3. LE

            I’m actually quite encouraged by all the negative WTF’s that I’ve been generated. Nothing like being able to see something that others can’t, or that they dispute, or that they don’t understand. (By the way before I criticize I tend to try and do at least some research to see what it is I don’t understand (this isn’t directed at you btw.) I try at least not to go off half cocked.I had a neighbor once that was a “fine” artist.One day I showed her good quality industrial shelving.I said “once you know what to look for, you could appreciate the construction quality of one type of shelving vs. another and it was like a work of art”. She said she had never considered shelving before in those terms, and seemed to enjoy and fully understand the nuances that went into the shelves that I showed her in the warehouse. Later she related over time how she now saw shelving wherever she went differently. The important thing here is that you can learn to appreciate something that you understand, but if you don’t understand it your brain processes it as a single chunk without differentiation.Anyway trying to point out the same thing with non-artistic people (over time) most just laughed and thought that it was so funny and made a look of “WTF” on their faces.Some of my best ideas that I have made money on came after the same WTF reactions. There is a lot of competition for obvious ideas.

          4. Dale Allyn

            LE, it’s good to get reactions from people – agreeing or not. Beats the hell out of being ignored. πŸ˜‰ In a civil and thoughtful group such as this, being provocative can often fuel interesting conversation. And if one doesn’t take himself/herself too seriously, the ribbing is all good, too.There are lots of examples of your thesis in simple advertising (see all of the male performance ads for the simplest forms), but looking deeper at other media one can see attempts at sensuality (not always pure or crude sexuality). Sometimes it’s successfully executed, and sometimes not.For overt examples in tangible designs look to higher-end plumbing fixture designs. Coffee makers and dispensers is another example.You took a risk with your comment, but look at all the conversation which occurred. πŸ™‚

          5. Wavelengths

            Here’s to risk-taking!

          6. Dale Allyn


          7. Cam MacRae

            There’s an excellent local panel format show called The Gruen Transfer that deals with these (and other) issues. Unfortunately they stop streaming 14 days after each episode, but I’m sure you could bittorrent it — it’s definitely worth watching.http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…Edit: Yep, definitely bittorrentable. And since it’s made with my tax dollars I grant you a clear conscience download :p

          8. Dale Allyn

            That looks like an interesting show, Cam. I don’t use peer-to-peer networks, but I’ll try to catch some during their streaming window and maybe they sell DVDs of past seasons or something. Thanks!

          9. Cam MacRae

            They sell DVDs, but they’re region 4 and PAL, neither of which are any good to you πŸ™

          10. Dale Allyn

            And so the UGLY issue raises its head once again. Selling such a DVD and region-locking it is ridiculous. It’s a local program, what’s the value in over-protecting it? sheeshAnd Thailand is region 3, unfortunately, so even that won’t help. I look for stuff to watch while there because I canceled my satellite subscription in BKK as I’m spending much less time there. Region hacks can be done, but then it’s back to the T.O.S./T.O.U. issues. sigh

    3. JamesHRH


      1. LE

        I take it you know nothing about this school of thought then.

        1. JamesHRH

          No, I am w @cammacrae . You are trying far too hard here.Media tells you what to think about, not what to think.Having shot commercials for national brands, ( although it is not like I have 20 years experience doing it, to be clear ) I can tell you that no one on any side of the table plots out the things you are seeing.Ever.

          1. Wavelengths

            Ummm, errrr, I don’t agree. LE may be taking it a bit far, but if the person behind the lens (or storyboard) is also watching for the subliminal, that’s where the genius shows up. And it isn’t just sexuality that operates to subliminally motivate watchers/buyers.

    4. Cam MacRae

      Lay off the absinthe, dude. Or. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.

    5. Dale Allyn

      In that case, you should avoid viewing a video of my office where I have an orgy of writing instruments in an “upright” container, a Caligulian cluster of mixed-origin bottles, two “probing” fiber-optic light sources WITH attachments, and three voluptuous label printers that’ll simply make your head spin.;)

      1. LE

        “right up my alley!”You the man.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I love that you call yourself a kook. And that you beat anyone else to it. πŸ˜‰

      3. Daman Bahner

        The Vinyl flooring one is genius – very interesting.

    6. Daman Bahner

      I can see what you mean with [2] – but the rest is a bit of a stretch. Anytime water sprays upward it’s sexual?

  12. JamesHRH

    Great founders lesson in here.- have a simple grand story (6th sense / around the corner)- be patient- ignore critics- stick to itI love when Dennis Crowley’s Dad identifies himself as ‘Dennis Crowley’s Dad’ ( & the commencement speech bit). You know some Dad’s don’t want their kids to do better than they did.Obviously, ‘Dennis Crowley’s Dad’ took the advanced parenting course somewhere & nailed being a Dad.Nice.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. He’s so good in this commercial

    2. Pete Griffiths

      Very moving.

    3. brian trautschold

      sincerely appreciated this video. actually just emailed this my Dad. Thanks.

  13. kenberger

    Mr and Mrs Crowley have serious down-to-earth star quality.Check out the whole family’s appearance on Family Feud from a few years ago for just a hint of how cool they are!

    1. fredwilson

      That Family Feud appearance is classic

  14. Jen Bekman

    Love this! Nice job, @dens + proud papa of @dens.

  15. daryn

    Loved the video, great story & really well done – though until the last frame I didn’t have any idea it was an ad for best buy. It was one of those videos that someone could have shot independently, and then sold to whomever wanted their logo at the end.I actually thought it was going to be an ad for Syracuse or ITP.

    1. fredwilson

      It does a great job promoting those schools too

  16. PhilipSugar

    Best Buy is really doing more of these type of commercials. Here is one with my brothers students and their “spiderman” robot. You can watch the last 30 seconds for the TV spot, the first minute and a half is lead up. Interesting because I’ve always thought they must be the retailer affected by showrooming the most. http://www.youtube.com/watc

    1. fredwilson

      Cool. I will check it out

    2. Aviah Laor

      I really don’t like when ads use the great moments of life to sell you something. Love, dreams, parents-children relationship, achievements, friendship, ideas, pulling your staff together, these experiences we strive and live for have nothing to do with buying something in Best buy (or anywhere else for the matter).To me, this is the worst form of the worst lie: that achieving something life is made through buying the next X, or brand Y, or at store Z. It’s a big idea. Inspiring. A pro video. And you can easily understand the exposure opportunity for FSQ. Would be hard for any responsible startup CEO to pass. But I don’t like it.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I don’t know, you can look at it two ways: exploitation or opportunity. Each of those four students got a year scholarship, fun trip to film it, bragging rights during the Olympics and a great video to show potential employers. They were ecstatic, if you asked them did they regret doing it, no way. But I can see the other side. But I don’t want LE to evaluate it πŸ™‚

        1. Aviah Laor

          For the students – off course. Awesome opportunity. But dont you think that for the viewers it’s pure exploitation? Dream! Take risks! Go to Best Buy! As silly as it sounds, Best-Buy DOES tries to trick you to fulfill your need to succeed, dream and achieve – by going to their stores.Better to read Seth Goddin and Steven Pressfield. They have less hair than Dennis Crowley, but better chances to lead the reader to true happiness.

          1. Wavelengths

            I see your point, but I believe that first it is an important element in the creative/risk-taking process for people to have role models they can identify with.If a person can relate to Dennis Crowley (or other examples) as a real-world down-to-earth person who realized a big dream, then they might be ready to take the steps to study the mentors you suggest, and more.

          2. Aviah Laor

            I agree. My criticism is not about relating to Dennis Crowley, but against ads that channel the inspiration and all the positive things we can learn from him into buying X.

          3. Wavelengths

            I sort of agree with you, but I think I’m slightly more on the side of getting positive messages out, regardless of the source.Here’s an example:”I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Read the article in Wikipedia and see how far that simple jingle went, and also consider the inspiration for it.

          4. Dave W Baldwin

            You can call something exploitation, but somebody had to pay to put this out there and by paying show they support something big.This may inspire others to do the same.

          5. Aviah Laor

            There are plenty of videos and texts about Crowley and FSQ, I doubt anybody who remotely considered a startup didn’t at least meet with the – truly inspirational – story. Seth’s blog is free. IMHO it’s not about supporting a big idea, but rather the opposite: make people believe that by buying X they make something similar to Crowley – and they could not be more wrong.

          6. PhilipSugar

            Yes, but my point was that BestBuy also shows four no-name engineering students from Arizona State College of Technology and Innovation (I bet seriously, other than me there is nobody that knows where that is, its not in Phoenix or Tucson) winning against the big old Universities, there definitely is a plug at the end, but that is not the series of commercials.

          7. Aviah Laor

            Most people will have to buy less to pursue their dream. To stick to the old car, the old laprop, buy everything cheap and stay extremely frugal. So it’s either dream OR Best Buy. If you are not one of those 4 students, then Best Buy and any “push things to buy” is a huge danger to your dream.

          8. LE

            By the way despite my other comments in this thread I do agree that people don’t spend money correctly to achieve their goals.

          9. Wavelengths

            “Spend money correctly” is the key concept. It’s possible to starve your dream to death in infancy if you don’t have the proper tools.Can you develop for smart phones if you don’t have one and don’t understand the experience?There is such a thing as being too frugal to allow the dream to come to life. Some dreams just can’t be fully envisioned with a pencil and pad of paper. Sorry.

          10. Aviah Laor

            This is the key issue. Ads are designed to trick you into somebody else goals. Now why would you work hard and then hand over your hard earned resources to fullfil somebody else’s goals? So they must make spending money on somebody else goals to looks like it’s actually your goal. Well, it’s not.

          11. Donna Brewington White

            Exactly, Dave.

          12. LE

            “But dont you think that for the viewers it’s pure exploitation?”Why is it exploitation? In a short period of time I learned about something that I didn’t even know existed. That was done by students. All paid for by Best Buy.How long before someone offers this as a fun way to climb a wall?

          13. Donna Brewington White

            I’ll wait until it is well out of beta.

          14. Aviah Laor

            Like Mcdonald’s support 4 students research on healthy food. It’s nice, but designed to hide something

          15. JamesHRH

            Whereas Seth & Steven don’t have a vested interest? No sale.If BB had implied some contribution ( or even the classic ‘drink Coors Light ‘ to attract bikini clad hotties association hook ) you might have some legs here.But they didn’t.They said ‘ find us some young people doing something technically awesome & get them to talk about laptops a little while they talk about their innovations ‘.Cause BB thinks people ( parents, basically )) should unlock their college kids. By giving them laptops. Which BB sells. I mean, what do you need exactly?

          16. Aviah Laor

            We are maybe more immuned to the bikini ads. It’s clear that this is an ad, we have this button, the ad wants to push the button. I believe we are less immuned to this new breed of ads but in a few years maybe they will be treated as the bikini association.

        2. LE

          ” But I don’t want LE to evaluate it :-)”I was totally distracted by the cool product and as a result nothing else mattered. But since you asked.I didn’t think the production values of this were anywhere near that of the Foursquare video. Same agency but might have been different creatives on this one. The color balance and lighting appeared off in the hallway scenes (and I would have chosen a different location to begin with for that matter) and they should have tried really hard to film on a sunny day as well.Obviously it’s a great opportunity for the students.

          1. Wavelengths

            Don’t you think the production values reflected the budget? College students in Mesa, AZ, versus a bona fide and well-spoken technology star? How much of your ad budget would you allocate for a bunch of no-names?I loved the product and I think the guys did a great job presenting themselves. The story was great. I’m glad it made the cut to be part of Best Buy’s series.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I actually think the production quality is entirely appropriate to the subject matter. The amateurish quality lends authenticity. You almost envision these guys filming it themselves. Slick would not have been the right feel for this.

          3. PhilipSugar

            It was shot in LA at Loyola Marymount. The students were most impressed how long (two days) it took to get that small spot. There is a ton of photoshop work including getting rid of the safety ropes, changing the name of the building etc. I think whatever effects they did were on purpose. See my reply below to see how it helped my brother.

      2. LE

        “To me, this is the worst form of the worst lie: that achieving something life is made through buying the next X, or brand Y, or at store Z.”When I was a kid I thought Christmas was pretty stupid. Then I realized all those people buying all those things that they really didn’t need made the things that I wanted cheaper because of the economies of scale.And, if people didn’t spend their money at Best Buy on the plasma that they didn’t need, it’s not like they would be saving that money for their healthcare or retirement or as emergency cash if they lost their job. They would just buy more cigarettes, alcohol or spend it at the casino, QVC or other crap.

        1. Wavelengths

          Yep. I remember hearing someone complain about a woman spending over $200,000 on her daughter’s wedding. (She could easily afford it.) The complainer was pointing out that all that money could have gone to charity instead.I pointed out how the florists, the dressmakers, tailors, parking valets, caterers, videographer, musicians, and on and on, all made money that went to their families and back into the community.The complainer had never thought about that before.Certainly better spent on a wedding than QVC, casinos, etc., IMO. We tend to forget that certain expenditures do affect the economy in generally unseen but significant ways.

        2. Aviah Laor

          But the idea was that when you buy, you inject revenue to the economy, more people have more money, they spend it back and everybody happy. This doesn’t work when you buy here and the revenue goes to China.Drugs etc – agreed. Part of the problem. You frame Best-Buy as an alternative product to alcohol and drugs! Luckily, once you turn of the Tv you can start thinking again.

          1. Drew Meyers

            “once you turn of the Tv you can start thinking again.”That’s why I don’t watch TV in the first place πŸ™‚

        3. ShanaC

          I think that is too cynical.I also think we’ve killed home ec in the US which did teach these skills. Another problem is that the banking system has made it a lot harder and a lot more of a chore to balance a checkbook.Solve that problem and things get better.

          1. LE

            “I also think we’ve killed home ec in the US which did teach these skills.”Could be true but the same goes for teaching nutrition, or, for that matter telling kids the reasons you shouldn’t smoke or do drugs.With things that are addictions (and shopping is an addiction for many people just like food, drugs, and cigarettes are) education has a nominal effect. That’s why it’s an addiction.”the banking system has made it a lot harder and a lot more of a chore to balance a checkbook.”How so? Are you able to compare it to what it used to be? To me it’s trivial now to balance a checkbook vs. the old days when you had to use an adding machine or a calculator. It’s simple now actually.People spend money that they shouldn’t spend and justify it in all sorts of ways. It’s really not education so much as social proof. It used to be called “keeping up with the Joneses”.If you see your neighbor sending their kid to summer camp (and don’t know their finances) or going away on vacation many people will just spend money they should be saving or borrow to do the same behavior.I was engaged once to a girl and her mother was going to mortgage her house to pay for our wedding. Imagine that! Guess what, if you have to do that you should make a smaller wedding or no wedding at all. People emulate the behavior of people who have more money w/o respect to whether they have the same resources. It’s not that everyone doesn’t do this to an extent of course, it’s a matter of degree.

          2. ShanaC

            For the record: I’m comparing balancing a checkbook here versus germany, where wiring money digitally is much much easier. Banks here write checks for you, which then need time to clear…

        4. Drew Meyers

          I hate the US materialistic mindset of buying crap just because you can. Why not spend that same money helping make the lives of others better? That’s what should be happening.

          1. LE

            That’s fine but you need to secure your own future first before worrying about the rest of the world.

          2. Drew Meyers

            Yea, totally agree. I’m confident about my own future. But the vast majority of the world isn’t, unfortunately.

      3. Donna Brewington White

        I don’t see it this way at all. I see this as a celebration of technology and a source of inspiration. Best Buy is using these commercials to link themselves to the technology train.These commercials will not influence me to buy anything in particular (except increase my lust for the Galaxy S3 — I have the S2 — and Best Buy will not benefit from this). However, to be honest, somewhere in my thinking, when it IS time for me to buy something electronic or technology oriented I will remember that Best Buy invested in celebrating something that is important to me. So I might check there first — as I factor in all the other things I do in making purchase decisions…and then generally end up buying on Amazon. :)If Best Buy wants to try to influence my thinking in this way, I say let them. It’s a small price to pay for their investment in creating inspiration. At worst it’s institutional advertising — influencing our perception of the company rather than an immediate purchase decision. It’s the type of creativity that capitalism inspires.

        1. Aviah Laor

          Case 2: You really want a new laptop, a new phone. You know that for your dream project/course/carrer-change/writing class whatever, you should really avoid this purchase. You better keep that 3 years old Dell which get heated until you can fry an egg on it’s left side.A new line of “thought” sneak in. Hmm, but Dennis Crowley supported them. They supported the students. If I buy, not only I will fry eggs in the pan again, it’s actually in the right direction for ME. The aura of doing the right thing suddenly is attached to Best-Buy. In a pulse, you buy and swipe your credit card. Ooops! After dinner it seems there is not enough money. Can’t afford to work a little less as planed. This new thing you dreamed of will have to wait for next year . And then, next year.

          1. Wavelengths

            Maybe that’s exactly the person who DOESN’T need to step into the world of entrepreneurship. It’s all about making appropriate decisions, considering the up- and down-side of each decision.

          2. Aviah Laor

            I disagree to “that kind of person”. Once you find out (usually by turning of the TV) that half of things you thought you should buy are really not that important, you suddenly have more resources to the important things. And change the “kind” of person you are. But nothing important starts with going to Best Buy.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            I seriously doubt the probability of this scenario, Aviah. This type of advertising doesn’t lend itself to impulse buying.And don’t impulse purchases generally involve disposable income?If someone is spending in this way, there is a deeper issue involved.

          4. Aviah Laor

            I don’t, took me many years and I see it all around me. Disposable in what sense? Two good friends are now taking a career change. Not really a change, but something they always wanted to do but delayed for the next (20 in their case) years. Not only they are happier, they are now (like me) terrible consumers.

          5. JamesHRH

            Own a laptop?

          6. Aviah Laor

            Impulse buying dont ask

          7. Wavelengths

            Truth. Thx. We are all human.

        2. PhilipSugar

          You know I talked to my brother about it yesterday when we spoke. Turns out that ad got him a raise and made it a is going to really help out as he gets full professorship. UNLV also called.So from a totally selfish perspective I think the ad was fabulous, much better than some celebrity. I went and bought monitors at Best Buy instead of Fry’s at a Trade show.

          1. Aviah Laor

            OK. You brought here something to be proud of about your brother and his students that made world class achievement in Arizona, and I screw it with a discussion about the influence of advertising. Sorry for that. This discussion can wait. Kudos for the project.

          2. PhilipSugar

            No you didn’t screw it. You had a legitimate argument that we could discuss. There is nothing wrong with that.

      4. PhilipSugar

        Talked to my brother which cemented my ideas. Got him a good raise (he has young twins), made it easy for him to get full professor, UNLV called.As he puts it they are celebrating engineering, not just some celebrity, or sports figure. So for me it will make me shop there. If somebody goes out and buys something they shouldn’t then they are a stupid-head.The engineering department finally got some footage on par with the football team (the coach of which makes 33 times more than my brother)

        1. LE

          The product seems to have tremendous commercial potential. (I’m on a binge watching Extreme Engineering re-runs on netflix) Seems so obvious that it’s hard to believe that someone isn’t doing this now, or it’s not already developed by a government contractor for defense or otherwise.Uses in construction, maintenance, real estate (as well as entertainment (I would get a tape of this to Hollywood or to amusement parks (with the ropes of course..))This is similar to what your brother was able to achieve. The teacher who spearheaded this project has moved on to better things as well:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pag…While some might be cynical as far as teachers encouraging these ideas for their own gain (not saying your brother did that btw) I think it’s the exact opposite. If there can be some gain financial or otherwise (other than feel good) for teachers to do things like this we are all in better shape. It’s good for everyone.

    3. Dave W Baldwin

      Beautiful Phil!

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Great share. Thanks, Phil.

    5. ShanaC

      πŸ™‚ they are dawww, cute!

  17. leigh

    Samsung is so smart. smart smart smart. I remember when you posted that original Samsung commercial with the people standing in line for the Apple store — totally well played.

  18. Wavelengths

    So, Fred, do you also feel like a proud dad when you watch this, knowing that you (and your crew) were instrumental in making this dream a reality?And (besides the money), is this a big part of why you do what you do?

    1. fredwilson

      Proud yes. But not like a parent. More like a early sponsor.

      1. Wavelengths

        Thank you. A delicate and generous distinction.

  19. William Mougayar

    This is a great video.Β It puts into perspective the depth and length of Foursquare’s vision which you have often referred to as “long roadmap”.Β I like the part about when only a few people were using FS but they stuck to their vision & now it’s in the hands of millions. This gives a lot of hope for a lot of startups.Β 

  20. Dave Pinsen

    I hadn’t seen the longer version of this commercial. It’s very well done. Nice to see his father in the longer version.Kudos to Crowley, and kudos to Fred & USV for backing him. I was pretty skeptical about Foursquare the first time I read about it, as some other AVC readers were. Perhaps it’s worth remembering our skepticism now. See the highest-rated comment on Fred’s post about Foursquare 3 years ago.

    1. falicon

      Such a great conversation to look back on (esp. because @Dens is active within it and his story hasn’t really changed but now we have hindsight to really understand it)…thanks for pointing it back out, great find!

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Social media focus on geolocation, but temporal location can be a useful aspect of them too.

    2. ShanaC

      I remember loving it when it first came out….

  21. ShanaC

    I realize this is the first time I’m seeing this because I never watch TV anymore…and nor do my friends. Commercials like these will have to be social because how else will anyone see them in the future of no t

    1. Donna Brewington White

      same here…no television — except watching a show online from time to time… although I think I did see something like this during the trailers for a movie

    2. leigh

      totally. big companies really have no idea how bad it’s going to get.

      1. ShanaC

        Yeah, and this ad, although inspiring, isn’t going to just cut it. Granted I think Hulu and Youtube will help the decline go more slowly, but as more people move to pay for content services, what will ads like these do?

  22. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I think it’s endearing that he still has a Justin Bieber haircut πŸ˜‰ But seriously, this is really interesting and inspiring, even if it is a commercial.

  23. paramendra

    This guy is a natural.

  24. Brad Lindenberg

    This reminds me of my youth. I spent $5k on a Gateway 2000 Pentium 200 with 128mb of ram in 1996 when I was 13. It was the best $5k I’ve ever spent. I’ve started two tech companies since and done well from both all because of that initial investment in a computer!

    1. Wavelengths

      Exactly! The right foundation at the right time to support your dream.

    2. fredwilson


    3. Pete Griffiths


  25. Pete Griffiths

    “Avoid the haters.” πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      Such good advice

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Essential. It’s a tricky balance between narcissistic personality disorder and inspired visionary CEO, but some poor bastard has to step up.

    2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      agree – that was one of my favourite lines in the video

      1. Pete Griffiths


  26. Pete Griffiths

    Father/daughter.Daughter at Stanford double majoring in Psychology and Mathematical & Computational Sciences – so proud.

  27. Stephen Albright

    I’ve enjoyed hearing about Dennis and Naveen’s early days building Foursquare from this blog. Can anyone offer advice to a non-technical founder looking for a technical co-founder?

    1. fredwilson

      Coworkers are a great place to start

  28. Adham AbdelFattah

    It is very inspirational too, as an aspiring entrepreneur I love the avoid the haters part, you have no idea. Thanks for sharing this

  29. laurie kalmanson

    fantastica book a few years ago imagined some of the ideas discussed here: “ambient findability” and still holds up

  30. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    besides the obvious inspirational part of this advertisement – they are also great because they put a face to the founders of some of the apps that everyone uses and reminds people of the struggle that these founders endured to launch their business. Hopefully, no facebook like movie will be made soon about Foursquare πŸ™‚

  31. thinkdisruptive

    Does a good job of telling Foursquare’s story, but it’s pretty poor advertising for Best Buy. The only reason I’m even thinking about it as a Best Buy commercial is because you said it was, drawing my attention to it. The 30 second version isn’t any better. Best Buy doesn’t have the time or money to do airy-fairy branding — they need to be selling why they deserve some of my cash, not talking about how the world is changing and leaving them behind (which is the impression that I’m left with).

  32. Donna Brewington White

    Yuck Spam! SHANAAA!@ShanaC:disqus

  33. William Mougayar

    Done. Thanks

  34. ShanaC

    I caught it.

  35. William Mougayar

    I did πŸ™‚ & blacklisted them