February 8, 2010

Super Bowl SUCCESs

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Even if you didn't watch the Super Bowl, you can still see one of the better ads right now on YouTube.

There are a lot of reasons this commercial for Google worked. I'm going to approach it from the perpective of Chip and Dan Heath's "Made to Stick." Let's see how it stacks up against their acronym SUCCESs as a memorable or "sticky" message. First, watch the commercial if you haven't already:

Simple: You can't get much more simple than showing a person searching on Google. Google is the tool and the product, and that's all you see. No dialogue, no actors, and only a simple piano melody drives the action. There are soft background sounds and voices to support the story.

Unexpected: I find the simplicity itself to be what was so unexpected about this ad. Especially in the middle of the Super Bowl, when most of the ads went over the top to get attention, this one was delightfully subtle.

Concrete: We all know what Google is. We all know how to use it. We don't have to stretch our imaginations to understand what's happening on the screen.

Credible: What's not to believe about the topics or methods of search? We've probably typed in similar searches about movie directors or "how to" do something or when a flight is arriving. We've used Google maps, and we've all had Google correct our spelling when we've misspelled a word.

Emotional: At first we're curious. Okay, so someone is searching on Google for study abroad programs. Then we realize it's a chronology of one person's experiences and we start to put the pieces together. We're drawn in; what will happen next? Long distance relationship? No, a job in Paris! Then, suspense! As the person types, we see all the possible search strings below... is he searching for how to tie a tie? No. Is he searching for how to assemble a computer? No.

Awww... "how to assemble a crib." A happily-ever-after ending with a baby giggle in the background. (A good friend of mine from college met her husband while studying abroad near Paris and is still living there with him and their three children. It happens.)

Stories: This ad takes random searches we've all done and strings them together into a storyline. There's a beginning, a middle and an end. We look at the search string "Tu es tres mignon" and surmise what has happened. We mentally create the story as each search is revealed. Google has given us the tool, but our brain's desire to make sense of the data is what's so fun about this commercial.

It isn't every day that a commercial can pass the "Made to Stick" test. How about your latest presentation? Have you held it up to the SUCCESs model yet?

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6 comments. Please add yours! :

Russ said...

This is probably crass, but I had to chuckle at the AutoComplete results during that commercial, because I thought that my Google searches rarely contain such clean results.

That said, it was an effectively told story as you say that made me feel good about Google and life in general.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Good point, Russ! Google cleaned up a bit for TV. :-)

Kathy Reiffenstein said...

Hi Lisa,

I had not seen this ad so I'm glad you posted on it. I would not have wanted to miss it!

I think your analysis is spot on. The ad is really clever. And it's the emotional context that makes it so engaging, as the viewer starts getting invested in the "story'. This is a good example of exactly what happens in our speeches and presentations when we involve the audience by telling a story. The emotional context of the story draws the audience in and very subtly, the ownership of that story starts to shift a bit from speaker to audience.


Lisa Braithwaite said...

I love your point about ownership. The audience becomes invested and then you've got 'em!

It's too bad that most advertising spots are so shallow. This one nails it, and people are going to be talking about this long after the Doritos and FloTV ads are gone.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this post - what a beautiful ad!

If only more ads were like this...

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Jessica! Advertising might not seem like a "dirty word" to consumers if advertisers paid more attention to art and story.

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