Google Won the Super Bowl with a Smart, Sad Advertisement

Sometimes we get a serious ad thrown into the mix. This year that ad came from Google.


Michael Beausoleil

3 years ago | 4 min read

If you watch The Super Bowl, you know you’re in for a series of massive advertisements. They’re usually bold, humorous, over-the-top, or inspirational. Advertisers know they’re reaching a huge audience, so they want to fit the tone of the game or provide some lighthearted relief.

Sometimes we get a serious ad thrown into the mix. This year that ad came from Google.

The advertisement “Loretta” tells the story of a man and his wife, using the Google Assistant to highlight their time together.

The advertisement sticks out because of its simplicity. It’s easy to follow, only features a single voice actor, and is all recorded on a computer. Unlike the other cinema-quality ads from the Super Bowl, this ad could be recreated by someone using Google Assistant.

It also sticks out for its somber tone. It’s like playing Eric Claption’s “Tears in Heaven” during the Half Time Show. The quality is there, but there’s a time and place for everything. The Super Bowl doesn’t seem like the right time to air a commercial reminiscing on the lives of an old married couple, but Google’s commercial seemed to work in ways I wouldn’t have expected. It not only showcases their product, but it appeals to the audience on a very personal level.

The Emotional Connection

If the tone of this ad is going to be compared to one thing, it’s the beginning of the movie Up. It showcases the beauty of a life spent with a partner, contrasted by the struggle of not having that partner around. In the Loretta ad, Google Assistant becomes the highlight reel for the narrator. He is able to ask for pictures during particular life events and Google Assistant brings up the pictures. As this happens, the narrator reacts and reminisces.

As a viewer, you don’t really know how to feel. You’re witnessing the story of two complete strangers. The pictures are cute, fairly realistic, and unremarkable out of context. Viewers can also quickly understand what is happening. The narrator is an old man who loved his wife, and this tugs at the heart strings. We don’t have to know Loretta to understand the sadness associated with loss or the frustration of losing memories. This is a concept we’re all familiar with, and it makes the Google advertisement very human.

Truthfully, this is not advanced use of a voice assistant, but it does represent realistic use of the product. Google wants their product to become a part of your daily life. Asking Google Assistant to bring up photos or to remember a location is a simple but common task. This allows the emotional connection to overshadow the complications of technology.

Conversational Dialogue

As Loretta’s story is being told, Google is showcasing the abilities of their Assistant. The ad opens with the question “how to not forget” being searched, then Google brings up results. This segues into the narrator looking at pictures of himself with Loretta and taking a trip down memory lane.

As he views pictures, he talks to the Google Assistant. He views a photograph of himself with a mustache and says “remember Loretta hated my mustache,” to which Google says it will remember. He later asks Google to play Loretta’s favorite movie and Casablanca is brought up. This implies the narrator had spoken to Google Assistant before and it had taken note of Loretta’s favorite movie.

In fact, we’re never told that Loretta has passed away. It’s just implied throughout the 90-second ad. Toward the end, we see Google showing a memory from May 14, 2017 were Loretta said “don’t miss me too much, and get out of the dang house.” If there were any doubts, this is the confirmation that Loretta had died.

Given this sad reality, Google focuses on the beauty of life and focuses on how their product can interact with customers.

Appealing to the Right Audience

The advertisement does a great job of establishing an emotional connection while showing ease of use. Perhaps the biggest success is the fact that this ad will appeal to people who resist or avoid technology. Most specifically, it shows an older user talking to Google Assistant about personal information.

When you think of people adapting to technology, it’s usually younger folks who integrate products into their lives sooner. Older people who have gone seven decades without a voice assistant may not see the need of having one. This advertisement shows that anyone can use Google Assistant. You don’t have to understand complicated software. Just say “remember Loretta loved Casablanca,” and Google remembers. Anyone can do that.

There’s also people who are skeptical of Google because they collect personal information. While this advertisement probably isn’t going to sway people who are already skeptics, it’s showing people how Google uses personal information. They’re trying to make your life easier. This familiarizes people with the idea of allowing technology into their personal lives. Whether Google collects our data or not, this advertisement shows personal data being used in the most appropriate ways possible. Perhaps this will reduce the number of future skeptics, or at least show people that they can benefit from a voice assistant.

A Win For Google

Despite the tone of the ad, it is regarded as one of the best advertisements from the 2020 Super Bowl. Why? Because it showcases a product while creating a great emotional bond. This is hard to do, especially in such an upbeat environment.

Where other advertisements incorporated celebrities, Google just had a clean demonstration of product use. It wasn’t a big gimmick to make people pay attention, but many people felt impacted by the ad. This is an effective use of advertising space, and a reason people will remember another Google service.

Most importantly, people saw how easy it is to use the product. Anyone can do it, and this makes the product more appealing. We didn’t need Ellen to tell us we needed Google Assistant in our lives. Rather, a strange old man became our spokesperson, and he did it better than a celebrity.

This article was published by Michael Beausoleil on medium.


Created by

Michael Beausoleil

Product designer, educator, content marketer.







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