Nothing But Brilliant: Nest Labs Marketing

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The inventor of the iPod and iPhone, Tony Fadell, is at it again. Fadell ignited a revolution in the music industry and now is seeking to transform an entirely new sector. He’s cofounded Nest – a company that makes high-tech thermostats, smoke detectors and video monitoring cameras.

Here’s the crazy thing about Nest though: it creates revolutionary tech products but its marketing department is “anti-tech.” Its VP of Marketing, Doug Sweeny, explains that the strategy is to avoid a Jetsons feel and to simply talk about how the products benefit homeowners.

Sweeny says the creative, marketing, social and digital team’s conversations all center on whether or not their messaging is “Nesty enough.” How does Nest avoid a techie feel and provide a Nesty voice? To find out, let’s check out two ads from Nest’s recent marketing campaignEveryone Loves Their Nest.

Humor that Hits Home with Customers

Nest’s ads humorously capture the “bump and bruises” of owning a home. Sweeny says his team uses this humor because they’re “trying to reflect the way…homes truly are and project the product in its environment.” Nest’s ads show how its products fit into the real day-to-day life of a homeowner.

Listen to how Nest has interfered with this toddler’s daily demolition plans:

Everyone Loves their Nest Dropcam. Except this kid.


Homeowners with young children can’t help but laugh at this strikingly familiar toddler. Nest uses this relatable humor to share an important message: the Nest Dropcam keeps a close eye on your children – the walking tornadoes who you love and want to keep safe. 

Self-Deprecation to Avoid Techie Branding

When a technical aspect of a Nest product is mentioned in an ad, it’s done with a tone of mockery. This “ironic” humor cleverly explains how the products work, without putting off a techie vibe. By making light of its own products, Nest’s marketing team accomplishes its goal to message the products as “stupid simple.”

 Listen to this grandpa to learn about how destructive high-tech gadgets can be:

Everyone loves their Nest Thermostat. Except Grandpa.

Who knew a rant could be so prodcutive? In just 6-seconds, a grumpy grandpa simultaneously whines about the Nest thermostat and explains how it works. This Bingo Night superstar then uses the remaining time to warn kids of the future “when the Internets come to life.” There’s no room for confusion: you don’t buy Nest products because they’re the latest cool tech gadgets; you buy Nest products because they’ll truly benefit you as a homeowner.


How to be “Nesty”

Nest is disciplined. It doesn’t waste time gloating over how its products have transformed the smart home sector. Instead, it stays focused on how its products solve homeowners’ pain points. Sweeny says that Nest is “not trying to present [itself] as a techie brand,” and so far it’s working. You can sell tech as “cool” or you can sell tech as “the new normal.” With its messaging and humor, Nest hits the second message home: “From now on, this is a thermostat.”


Tune in next week to see why some talented marketers love to stink. Until then, you can “comment” on this post, or any other topic addressed on our blog, by posting on social channels with the hashtag #tintsocial. We’d love to hear about brands whose marketing you admire. Subscribe to this series by typing your email in the “Get the newsletter” box in the top right corner of the page.

Originally published February 27, 2015, updated May 18, 2015Posted in Marketing