Like most things, the success of the Google’s first-ever foray into branding and advertising on TV will take time to assess. There will be those who claim ‘genius’ on the part of Google. Others, like myself, were left a little confused.
The commercial is simply a closeup of the Google home page set to some background piano. The person searching, possibly a male, is searching phrases related to France: getting a job in France, moving to France, eating in France, romance in France, long distance relationships, etc. We then hear a baby cry in the background and the search becomes one for how to put a crib together...which doesn’t really makes sense since cribs tend to come with instructions. And all cribs are different, so even if you did not have the instructions, I would expect specifying the brand and model of crib would be crucial.
Putting all that aside, I believe they wanted us to feel that Google is with you throughout your life journey. From moving to a new place, meeting someone and starting a family. However, I took it that the person performing the searches took a job in France, had an affair there, and is now back in the US, stuck at home with his wife and baby.
I was very surprised that Google felt the need to advertise during the Super Bowl. Especially when they have already cornered the market on web searches. People already say they are going to "Google" something even if they are using Yahoo or Bing as their search engine. I feel they should have been marketing one of their other products such as Google Maps, Google Analytics or something else.
Compared to the other ads run during the game, I think this was the most "on brand" ad in the bunch. I think Superbowl ad space is cheaper than ever right now, due to the economy - and demonstrated by the other crap that was run...
The Google ad did a good job of telling a story without the use of live action, animation or even narration. It was relevant to their brand and given that Bing is aggressively trying to move in, I don't see it as a waste.
While I agree with Jason, that a Google Maps ad would have been cool too - I don't think Google Analytics is mainstream enough for a Superbowl ad... Even Google Maps isn't nearly as broad-based as search.
Thumbs up from me...
I got what they meant out of it, that each search was a step in his life and was something of a consequence of the previous search. However, I don't think it was quite worthy of being a Super Bowl ad (though most of them aren't). The only reason to talk about it is that its Google's first ad, not that the ad was worth talking about on its own. By no means was it a bad ad. It wasn't trite like those stupid Budweiser ads that make me want to kill something precious every time I see a new one. But it didn't sell its product to me like the Doritos Ads (I seriously want some right now). The one ad that did make me use Google was the Snickers ad (Betty White is awesome, but how old is she anyway?). I appreciate that they are being proactive, but they’re almost like a basic utility of the internet, as far as searching goes. What they should have done is highlight some of their lesser know features/services, like Wave, Buzz, or ever Gmail.
It did tell a decent story. But the story could have been taken two ways. If you leave the interpretation of a brand up to the viewer, or even leave a small question in their mind, you have done a disservice to the brand. You are in control and need to always represent the brand explicitly.
Additionally, for any well developed branding campaign to work effectively, frequency needs to be employed. Showing the ad but once requires the viewer to recall the message, if they even got it the first time. Instead, the message should continue to be reinforced. But then again, maybe that's what I'm doing right now for them...for free! Damn you Google. Damn you!