Ad Of The Month


Germany: Google


Google’s relationship with Germany – specifically the German authorities – has not always been a smooth one. The company has a history of disputes over its technology, its potential monopoly status, and Germany’s generally strong commitment to user privacy. Most famously, Google Street View coverage is almost nil in Germany thanks to privacy concerns – symbolic of the trust issues German consumers have with not just Google but most of the big tech brands.

So it’s not surprising Google wants to emphasise the friendlier side of its services in a new German campaign from 72 And Sunny. The brand has released two family-themed ads for the core Google search function, with home video style snippets from a dad and his daughter’s life matched to a selection of their search terms – “How can I be an influencer?” and so on.

Whatever issues some Germans have with the wider brand, almost all of them still use Google for search – as in most Western countries, Google enjoys near-total dominance in the search market with 95% share. So these ads should be understood purely in a brand-building sense. They aren’t realistically looking for market share growth for Google Search, but they are trying to reinforce and reassure. Reinforce, in that the ads remind people how Google is always there and always works. Reassure, in that by entwining the brand with the intimacies of family life it makes Google feel safe – part of the family, almost.

How well do the ads do this job? One surprising thing is that there’s a wide gap in results even though the ads are superficially quite similar. The “daughter” ad, showing her searches, gets a similar short-term Spike score to the “dad” commercial, but far outperforms it on the long-term Star Rating. In other words, people recognise that both ads are for Google, but much prefer the “daughter” ad, giving it a 3.7-Star score versus the “dad” ad’s 2.4-Stars.

Why does the daughter ad do so much better? You might assume it’s the visual focus on a different character, but this doesn’t really show up on screen – there’s lots of the Dad in the “daughter” ad and vice versa. Instead, the difference seems to be what each are searching for. The Dad wants life and parenting advice. The daughter is looking to deal with first love, the wider world, and all the challenges of growing up.

Ultimately, growing up is a more relatable and more dramatic story – it gives the “Daughter” ad the sense of a narrative arc even though it doesn’t really have one. In comparison the “Dad” version is just a collection of cute family clips, so it’s not really surprising people engage with it less.

The “Daughter” ad has the potential for greater emotional impact – and in the long term greater commercial impact too. If Google plans to continue its German charm offensive, “Daughter” is a good starting point. But it’s the hints of story, not the format, which make it work where its parent ad doesn’t.