New Delhi: At a time when to many of its users Google has long shed its "Don't be evil" image of its startup days and is resembling the evil corporate behemoths that it once appeared to stand against, Google is subtly attempting an image makeover by highlighting the good that its products are doing.
A three-and-a-half minute ad that has now gone viral, created by Ogilvy for Google, shows how Suman the grand-daughter of Baldev, a Partition displaced Punjabi now running a trophy and souvenir shop in Delhi helps him reunite with his childhood friend Yousaf from Lahore with lots of help from Google.
The ad titled 'Google Search: Reunion' has been watched over 3 lakh times in the first 16 hours since it was first posted on the Google India channel on YouTube.
In a Google+ post, sharing the ad, Google put forward its do-good side and said, "Google Search helps you find whatever you're looking for. We've brought this idea to life in a short video showing how human passion and hope can overcome time and borders. In this story, a woman in India reunites her grandfather with his childhood friend (who is now in Pakistan) following six decades of separation since the partition of India-with a little help from Google. We hope this is a reflection of the many stories of reunion."
While for many Indians and Pakistanis with not-so-pleasant memories of Partition (and also to many others) this ad would strike an emotional chord but to people used to watching ads for Google (not to be confused with Google ads, the engine driving the tech giant) the 'Reunion' ad more-or-less treads on the much walked on path where a story is told in the background while simultaneously trying to highlight Google features that control the direction of the story being told.
The much shared and watched 'Reunion' ad is a part of a series of ads that attempt to highlight different aspects of Google Search. If you watch closely, the granddaughter first googles for a "park with ancient gate in lahore" on her Samsung Chromebook aided by Google's Autocomplete and then gets to know what jhajariya is through Google's Web definitions. She then locates Lahore's Fazal Sweets using Google Places of Business that directs her to the Fazal Sweets Google+ page that displays a phone number and then she makes a call using her Nexus phone. Yousaf's grandson Ali, while packing for the trip to India, looks up the weather in Delhi searching on his Nexus 4. On the way to the airport to receive the guests from Pakistan, Google's flights search tells Suman that she is running late. The ad closes with the two long departed friends celebrating their reunion in the Delhi rain (as forecast previously by Google weather).
This ad isn't only about the reunion of friends but also a union of various Google Search features.
The focus moves away a little from the emotional aspect to Google's search features in the other four shorter ads in the series. The 'Anarkali' ad showcases Google Shopping, the 'Fennel' ad is for Google Translate, "Sugar-free" for Recipe View and "Cricket" highlights sport scores.
In the face of rising competition and eroding respect, Google is trying hard to reestablish its position in the eyes of the consumers. Now even Microsoft, that was once biggest symbol of what the then don't-be-evil Google stood against is taking potshots at its rival. In an ad campaign that Microsoft derisively calls "Scroogled" attempts to depict Goggle as a duplicitous company that is now more interested in minting profits and power rather than protecting user's privacy and providing unbiased search results. Google is also facing probes by fair trade regulators in India, Europe and three other jurisdictions for alleged anti-competitive practices.
Does Google's new series of advertisements help in resurrecting its image? Watch and let us know in the comments.
And if you are wondering if there indeed is a Fazal Sweets at Mochi Darwaza, Lahore? There is.