Huawei has been running a teaser campaign for the Ascend P8, scheduled for launch on 15 April 2015.
The message is following a somewhat predicable arc around themes of light. Whether that's light in weight, light for the camera, light on the pocket, stealing the limelight, lighting the way or lightening up, is a moot point. What are interesting are the analogies Huawei is making along the way.
Huawei seems to have drawn inspiration for all sorts of places in a teaser campaign that many will just see as downright weird. Huawei isn't opposed to walking the line when it comes to the bizarre and the tease for P8 is no different. Let's take a look at what's going on.
Huawei's teaser video "Capture the wonder of light" stars a hooded figure. In the video, the protagonist walks dark cityscapes, sucking in light, leaving others in the darkness.
The scenes in the video match those in many of the images shared on social media: the suggestion of quality craftsmanship or enhanced selfie functions are easy enough to spot and naturally pertain to smartphone features. We've embedded that video below for your enjoyment.
Huawei started this arc of light theme with natural occurrences. The aurora introduced the protagonist in March, quickly stepping onto the eclipse that followed, with somewhat occult imagery, before progressing to the more conventional imagery of London, the location of the launch.
Fans of Harry Potter will know that Professor Dumbledore walks into Privet Drive with a Put-Outer at the opening of The Philosopher's Stone. The setting isn't too different to the experience of Huawei's vdieo: both feature a shrouded figure sucking light into a device and JK Rowling's work was the first thing that sprang to mind when we saw it.
We mentioned that slightly occult image that appeared with the eclipse and ideas of sorcery chime nicely with Harry Potter. Just check out our friend conjuring fire in our lead image above. Next stop teaching DADA at Hogwarts.
Huawei's teaser (top), Harry Potter (bottom, source: YouTube)
Huawei isn't going to deposit the baby Harry Potter on a doorstep, but there's the intimation that its baby will be the one to restore the light or give the light back. This will be the smartphone that fights evil and oppression, combatting darkness, it would seem.
Who is this hooded figure?
There's a sort of Assassin's Creed chic to the shrouded face of our protagonist. He (for it is certainly a man) is pictured in the dark, a master of the night, a solitary character destined to stalk the earth, just him and his Ascend P8 against the world.
We're pretty sure that an assassin or night stalker isn't the lifestyle pitch that Huawei is after, but Arrow might just be. Huawei's behooded character bears more than a passing resemblance to sort of imagery we see of Oliver Queen. There's probably some clever analogy we could make to William Tell - shooting Apples and all that - but that might be reading far too much into things.
Huawei's mystery man (left), Arrow (right, source: Facebook)
Huawei's figure has appeared in all the imagery so far and we're assuming that at some point in the future, he'll throw back his hood to reveal perfectly coiffured hair and perfectly chiseled cheekbones.
Aside from the quality craftsmanship of our anti-hero, the emergence will presumably see all the wonder of light being reborn, with Huawei's hero Ascend P8 unleashed on the world. Yes, we're still talking about a smartphone unveiling remember.
Going infinitely Greek
Having walked a slightly predictable path, the P8 has hooked itself into classics. The video opens with a quote from Aristotle's essay Poetics, reading: "Infinitely various are the incidents in one man's life".
Casually name-dropping the Greek philosopher could just be a throwaway line designed to suggest sophistication. It's likely to be the suggestion that a smartphone will see you through the infinite variety you'll face on your journey through life.
In the source of this quote, Aristotle is really talking about how a poet will tell the parts of a hero's life that fit the plot they want. When talking about a hero, the storyteller might sidestep the parts that make them less heroic.
We're sure that wasn't the interpretation that Huawei was after, because when it comes to launch day, you'll only be seeing the good bits. But before we get distracted in this notion, it also introduces infinity.
Huawei has been tracing out the 8 numeral - for P8 - in various streams of light. However, by the beginning of April, this is moved to the horizontal. It has become the infinity symbol, rather than the number 8.
With hands raised to the heavens, our cowled crusader conjures infinity in flame above his head, in a salute to Prometheus. Infinity and gods are easy to link together because of their immortality, but infinity is also used (outside of mathmatics) to represent eternal love.
Huawei is a company that wants to be loved, but we think this is really about removing boundaries. That matches the infinite horizon in the image, the infinite reach of space, but on a deeper level, removing boundaries fits with Huawei's motto of #MakeItPossible.
Prometheus is a huge name check for a smartphone tease. If you thought that slipping in Aristotle was big, then a mythological Titan is even bigger. We're now playing with the gods.
Huawei's salute makes some sense: Prometheus is the god who gave fire to mankind, just as Huawei, presumably, is going to return the light to mankind as we've already suggested.
But it sparks some interesting interpretation. Although Prometheus was the giver of fire, the Titan is best known for what came after. That fire was stolen from Zeus and his vengeance was ferocious.
Huawei's imagery here is complicated. We have our anti-hero in worship with flaming infinity between his raised hands. Prometheus' image is spread across a Galaxy of stars (again, an analogy we won't labour), the Titan holding fire aloft. It feels like a climax moment.
But, as Aristotle reminded us, there's more to this story than is being told. The image used is from Eduard Müller's sculpture Prometheus Bound and the Oceanids. We've cropped the detail to the part concerned. It's a slightly different angle to the image used by Huawei, but you can see what's going on.
Prometheus Bound and the Oceanids (cc Hans Kreul, source: Flickr)
Rather wonderfully, the raised arm in Huawei's picture is a Photoshop addition and not part of the sculpture that depicts Prometheus' punishment, rather than the heroic act of giving fire.
And perhaps this is where the mythological metaphor really falls apart: the Huawei Ascend P8 might restore the light, its coming might be as magical as conjuring fire, it might be the phone that conquers the evil oppression of unnamed rivals.
Or it might be like being chained to a rock for all eternity, having your liver pecked out by an eagle, the fate that befell Prometheus.