Today, you can’t look at an iPhone or Android device without first looking through Gorilla Glass. The thin and highly durable material covers all sorts of gadgets—from smartphones to tablets to TVs—and is responsible for most of your devices’ touch-sensitive, thin, and beautiful displays. But unless you’re a phone enthusiast, it’s not likely that you’ve heard of Gorilla Glass, which has been called the unsung hero of the tablet revolution.
Now Corning, the 161-year-old company behind Gorilla Glass, is trying to change that. Taking a page from the likes of Intel and HTC, this once very inside player is building a public- and business-facing brand. In a sequel to the company’s monstrously popular video, "A Day Made of Glass," Corning presents a not-to-distant future where our whole world is seen through Gorilla Glass, from transparent dashboards to entire rooms covered in wall-to-wall interactive displays. The company spent $1.5 million on the ad, which will only be released on YouTube—and will not appear on TV. "We spent far less than we would have for a Super Bowl spot," says Corning CFO Jim Flaws, who believes the viral nature of the clip makes it more powerful than traditional television marketing. "We’ve found this to be incredibly effective."
In the video, a narrator takes viewers inside a world made of Gorilla Glass, where edge-to-edge displays make nearly every surface interactive: windows, a car’s dashboard, walls, tables. Everything is touch sensitive and transparent. "How close are we to this?" the narrator asks. "Well, it’s do-able now, but not to this scale and not at an affordable price. Further innovation in manufacturing is needed to get us there at on a broad scale."
Of course, the inspiring clip is designed to wow consumers as much as it is to impress investors. Corning, a publicly traded company, wants to demonstrate how it fits (everywhere) in the future, in industries ranging from health care to education to entertainment. "It’s inspired confidence with investors," Flaws says. "But obviously you have to deliver on it—you can’t just show videos endlessly."
Corning’s first video rocketed to 17 million hits ("For a moment, more views than Lady Gaga," Flaws laughs), and the branding has been so effective with consumers that Gorilla Glass has become a feature advertised by device makers. Motorola now boasts in national advertisements that its Droid smartphones come with Gorilla Glass, a sign for Corning that it could soon become a household name. "It’s stunning—that’s not even a paid placement," Flaws says.
When the first video hit the web, Corning’s phone lines lit up with calls from amazed consumers wondering when such products were coming to market. Based on what we’ve seen, it’s likely to happen again.
"It’s funny," Flaws says, "because we actually don’t sell anything to consumers anymore."
Below, a longer video detailing which of the above video’s eye-popping scenarios are possible now, and which will have to wait a few years.