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Sunday was the biggest day of the year for advertising. Perhaps due to price, people probably pay more attention to ads during the Superbowl than any other time of the year. It was reported that for a 30-second ad spot this year companies would have to shell out $3m, excluding production costs, etc. But it makes sense; many people (non-football fans) watch the Superbowl simply to see the ads. Most of the time brands create a new lineup of ads specifically for the Superbowl, usually aimed at entertaining, rather than sending a focused message about their product to their target market. Though some people are disappointed by this year’s lack of funny ads, one company made a big splash during the game.

Google’s “Parisian Love” ad was put in the spotlight for several reasons. First, it was recognized as one of the better ads from the game and generally had very positive feedback. Second, the specific ad used has  been around for about three months and prior to the Superbowl spot, had around 1.2m hits; this opposes what is typically used for Superbowl advertising. Third, Google has said in the past that brand advertising is big waste of money. Even with their Superbowl spot this year, Google pays a tiny fraction of what Microsoft and Yahoo have paid for advertising, and they’re still the most successful. Fourth, because the ad itself is simply a few screenshots of the search engine, it could be one of the cheapest Superbowl ads ever produced. Last and probably most importantly, despite Google’s 10+ year history and dominance over the market, “Parisian Love” was Google’s first search-related advertisement to ever air on television.

From my point of view, the ad is pure genius. Though only a minute long, Google creates a narrative using only their website’s functionality to tell the story with a subtle, but moving soundtrack. It’s a perfect example of how Google’s search engine is used for a variety of situations, without being too overt. The story they create can be experienced and enjoyed by everyone, which might have played a part when they chose to air the ad during television’s most viewed few hours of the year. I can’t think of a better time for a company with 70% of the search market share to advertise. Google already affects so many people, so having an ad promoting their most used function gives preexisting users a stronger connection to the company and more reason to return to the most popular search engine.

Not surprisingly, one site noted the inaccuracies in the ad’s autocomplete options, which have a tendency to have some very strange results. However, had Google not edited the actual results, it would definitely take away from the message of the ad. Seeing “making friends with black people” during the ad certainly could have thrown some people off-guard. But editing out real searches is not going to hurt Google in the long run. If anything, it will drive more people to the site to search those terms. And most of the time, the odd searches are just silly.

Love them or hate them, it’s hard to deny that Google has a lot of smart people working for them. So do you think Google’s ad was effective? Was it any better than the other Superbowl ads? Why did or didn’t it/they work? What were your most and least favorite ads? If you haven’t seen it already, check it out below:

UPDATE: Apparently, there have been a number of parodies on Google’s Parisian Love ad here.


One Comment

  1. Brian,
    I love Google’s ad and I agree with you: it was a great idea, they were able to tell a romantic story through a cold and impersonal web functionality without even using one image! It really gives me the creeps every time I see it.
    However, I am not sure the ad was properly posted during the Superbowl as I guess the target of this event is probably not “in the mood” of a romantic story, being excited and thrilled by the match. In my opinion it could have had more success being posted as a commercial in a movie theater, where people are more prone to listen/read a story.

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