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Why Google wants to make you cry during the Super Bowl

“Loretta” purposely uses the same product-demo-as-storytelling device as the brand’s best-ever spot, “Parisian Love.”

Why Google wants to make you cry during the Super Bowl

Google is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its first trip to the Super Bowl with a new ad aiming to reflect the goal of building products that help people in their daily lives, in both big and small ways. In “Loretta,” a man uses Google Assistant to keep the memory of his wife as fresh and alive as possible.

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According to Google CMO Lorraine Twohill, the spot is based on and voiced by a real person, the 85-year-old granddad of a Google employee. “At 85, to an audience of millions, he’ll be making his film debut. We couldn’t be happier for him,” Twohill wrote in a blog post.

“Loretta” is also a tribute and conscious reminder of Google’s first TV ad, which aired for the first time offline during the 2010 Super Bowl, and which was a turning point in the company’s approach to brand building. It went from product demo to storytelling. And it worked. “Parisian Love” was one of the most memorable ads of that year.

Twohill says both spots are “simple love stories told through the lens of our products.” She told me back in 2018 that “Parisian Love” and its follow-up, “Dear Sophie,” were critical milestones. “What changed the game for us was to go out and create ‘The web is what you make of it,’ which is essentially a brand campaign about people using the web to make their lives better, with stories like ‘Dear Sophie.’ It’s as big a milestone as ‘Parisian Love,’ at least internally. It really paved the way for us to do more of that kind of work,” she said.

“Loretta” continues that tradition of using humanity as a crucial brand messaging cog that, over the last decade, has helped Google grow exponentially and—just as important—avoid the same levels of public scrutiny and backlash that have hit fellow Big Tech behemoths such as Facebook and Amazon.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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