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Verizon talks engineers into becoming Pixel 2 salespeople

Commentary: Can engineers act? You decide as Verizon's first ad for Pixel 2 gives Google and Verizon's finest an (almost) starring role.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


On the left, a real engineer. On the right, a real actor who plays an engineer.

Verizon/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Engineers are the smartest people in the world.

I've had several explain to me in detail why this is so.

How far, though, do their talents stretch?

Well, Verizon decided to find out. In its new ad for the Pixel 2 -- available only at Verizon from today -- it talked quite a few Google and Verizon engineers into appearing.

Here they are, busily working away in an office with a very large Verizon logo when in rides corporate pitchman Thomas Middleditch -- Richard Hendricks from "Silicon Valley."

He explains that Google and Verizon working together is like making a salad dressing.

"Verizon is the oil and Google is the balsamic," he explains.

Engineers, though, are questioning sorts. Especially because, being far smarter than most of us, they so often have the answers.

"No, actually they separate into a suspension," explains one helpfully over-intelligent Verizon engineer.

Sadly, a Google engineer pipes up with some product speak, which is then complemented by more product speak from a Verizon engineer.

And then Middleditch tries to win them over with a new analogy.

How did the two companies choose which engineers would perform?

"We wanted to make sure that they were passionate about their work, had vast knowledge about network capabilities and ensured that they represented Verizon's culture which is pretty diverse across gender and race," a Verizon spokeswoman told me of its participants.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

It can't have been easy, though, for these engineers to stop to acting.

It involves subterfuge, while many engineers are used to being painfully straightforward. It involves nuanced expression, while many engineers prefer, at best, microaggression.

Still, imagine you're Middleditch. You have to walk on a set not with the likes of fellow thespians and comedians, but with people who, every day, control how the world works.

I fancy he was more intimidated than the engineers.