Is it live or is it Memorex?

In 1971 Memorex launched its “shattering glass” advertisements, followed up by a series of television commercials featuring Ella Fitzgerald singing a note that shattered a glass while being recorded to a Memorex audio cassette. The tape was played back and the recording also broke the glass, asking “Is it live or is it Memorex?”

Who remembers those ads from an era as far behind us as the Walkman – and why should they matter to us today? If you remember the ads and the company and are reading this blog then you are young at heart and smart enough to know that you need to understand the significance of digital transformation on your business. This story is important for the following 3 reasons:

  1.  Memorex no longer exists – it was started 1961 as a high tech computer storage company, branched into consumer products and after being acquired and broken up, was put into bankruptcy in 1996.
  2. The technologies (audio & video tapes) it was promoting have ceased to be relevant.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, the brand name and power of the message still have value. The brand was acquired by Imation of Taiwan and is used on accessories for iPods, Blueray and flash drives to evoke that sense of authenticity for quality playback.

While companies come and go and technologies fade, the value of a brand and the authenticity are more critical in a digital world than ever before. It is harder than ever today to determine what is live, what is real or fake, who are friends and who are not. Is the Facebook friend a real friend, one who would do for you what you need a friend to do? Is the company you “like” on Facebook a legitimate organization that understands what makes you tick, what really matters in your life? And perhaps most importantly, is trust possible in today’s Digital Life?

There are aspects of human nature that will always supercede the advances of technology – an understanding of right and wrong, good morals, spirituality, the courage to defend one’s family and loved ones, and to help and care for those who are in need. These are the values that define us and do not go away. And this is why brands that we have established an emotional and values-based connection with have such longevity and resonance with us.

Companies and individuals alike both face an interesting dilemma in today’s fast paced Digital World. Do we opt to embrace or ignore new technologies and the changes they bring about? The harsh reality is that ignoring change does not keep things the same!

On a corporate level, ignoring change can lead to disenfranchisement of the brand promise. A classic example of loss and recovery is Apple which owned simplicity with the Mac, lost it in the mid 90’s, only to rediscover it again when Steve Jobs returned and ushered in the iPod.

On a human level, it can hobble our ability to teach our children how to manage time, create expectations, earn respect and create trust by following through using new technologies and mediums, and building on the common values we share. Through the actions we take on a personal level and the brands we chose to validate, we define who we are, and how the world will evolve.

So in the Digital World “is it live or is it Memorex?” translates to authenticity and trust being the critical components of success! As we embrace change, build companies and continue to create more enabling technologies, we must not lose sight of those values that define us as humans. We must use the opportunities presented globally by Digital World technologies to bring health, happiness and the joy of living into the real world.

Organizations will need to change and adapt in order to ensure that their products remain authentic to their brands, and society as a whole will need to adapt to ensure that it remains true to its core values, and rewards those companies and brands that best understand and serve it.

If you’re interested in learning how your business can remain relevant and authentic in the emerging Digital World, we at KeySo Global can show you how. Contact us at, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website

Steve Bell & Steve Benton, KeySo Global

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2 Responses to “Is it live or is it Memorex?”

  1. James Shymkus says:

    I thought you’d like to know that I created the shattering glass campaign
    while at Leo Burnett. Ella was the third In that series, the first two were opera singers. James Shymkus

  2. steve says:

    James, thanks for sharing that information with us.
    Great ads stand the test of time you must be very proud of your work.

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