Google, the company who’s avoided commercial advertising and build its brand largely through word-of-mouth (even thought selling advertising is where Google makes it’s money) ran an ad on the superbowl yesterday, the mother-load of all advertising spots.
If you missed it, it’s a simple ad showing just the Google homepage and search results documenting a series of searches over time which subtly tells a love story. The searches start with “study abroad in paris” and evolve through other topics such as, meeting places for a date, translations of french (“you’re very cute”), “how to impress a french girl”, “chocolate shops in paris”, “long distance relationship advice”, “jobs in paris”, tracking flights to Paris, finding a church in paris, and finally, “assembling a crib”. A heartwarming love story is told through search….
What is Google’s Parisian Love Superbowl ad really telling us though?
I derived two subtle points which Google may not want communicated very much.
First, the essence of the ad makes it very clear that Google’s policy of tracking one’s searches over time and recording every single search ever logged on it’s servers is quite powerful (and scary). The reality is just as the searches portrayed in this commercial lead one to a logical conclusion of events, all of our searches (and most of us search many times each day) allow Google to compile a “story”, or what advertisers would call a profile, on each and everyone of us. This is about as close to big brother technology as our world has come. Phase I of Parisian Love might be a cute little love story, but what if phase II include searches such as “finding a divorce lawyer in Paris”, “how to fight Parisian courts for custody”, “managing joint custody when parents live in different countries”, etc…. is that information still cute and benign? Or is the saving of such search information breaching the company’s own mantra of “do no evil?”
The second subtle take-away is that television ads work, and there is still no substiture for the mass reach of the superbowl. For all of the money Google is generating in online advertising (often at the expense of shifting television and print budgets), this online company is opting to buy TV ads to promote it’s online search business and further build it’s brand. Interesting…
What do you think?
View Google’s Superbowl Ad here