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Google leads this year's Super Bowl tech-ads parade

Does Google need to buy an ad anywhere, much less in the Super Bowl? Apparently, it does -- as you would have learned from watching the game last night.

The search giant's nearly wordless, one-minute ad -- an embed of the video is after the jump, if you somehow haven't seen it yet -- traced the story of a relationship as seen through Google searches. Like many of the company's products, it was notable for its understatement compared with the competition.

(But was I the only person to think "wow, that's a lot of somebody's life stored in Google's search logs"?)

The reportedly $5 million spot also resembled many Google products in its success at blowing past rivals, as The Hill's Kim Hart (a former cubicle dweller here) observed in a post this morning. Over at Search Engine Land, editor Danny Sullivan noted that Google first posted the spot on YouTube three months ago -- Slate uploaded a parody version featuring imagined searches by Tiger Woods in early December -- and has since bought a Google ad to point people to its ad.

As in prior Super Bowls -- see my recaps of tech ads from 2009 and 2008 -- I wasn't too surprised to see that most of the tech industry's contribution to the genre fell short of such classics as Apple's "1984" ad. Oh well: You can't expect all of the ad agencies to stage the equivalent of a 74-yard touchdown on an interception return.

* As a customer of GoDaddy's domain-registration services, I continue to cringe every time this company airs ads that entirely ignore marketable attributes of its services (as in, they're cheap and they work). This year's crop was a little more subtle than prior attempts ... which isn't saying much.

* Motorola's Megan Fox clip played off the same basic theme as the domain registrar's ads but was a little more clever at making fun of it.

* I'm a sucker for anthropomorphized animals and so enjoyed Monster.com's fiddle-playing beaver.

* For similar reasons, I had to smile at Intel's sad, upstaged robot, even if the real-world virtues of products pushed in the ad -- its new i3, i5 and i7 processors -- remained somewhat unclear.

* E*Trade's talking babies are getting predictable, but the "milkaholic" angle brought some new life to the genre.

* I'm trying to wipe the images in CareerBuilder.com's "Casual Friday" ad from my memory (and apologize for linking to it here).

* Qualcomm's Flo TV ad had me wondering how many guys would want to identify with that spot's sad, "spineless" individual, whose deprived life could be redeemed only by buying a portable TV and subscribing to this service (note that a mobile version of free broadcast digital TV is coming this year).

* Vizio's pitch for its Internet-connected TV made me think of ads for Verizon's Droid smartphone at first, with its series of robot arms plucking content off shelves.

What did you think of this year's tech ads? Post your reviews in the comments.

As for all the other Super Bowl commercials, see write-ups by The Post's Tom Shales and Slate's Seth Stevenson, then cast a vote in our poll. Because we all know most of you have nothing better to do on a snow day.



By Rob Pegoraro  |  February 8, 2010; 10:56 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture  
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Comments

"(But was I the only person to think "wow, that's a lot of somebody's life stored in Google's search logs"?)"

No, you weren't!

Did they have to dumb down search behavior that way? Who asks questions on Google in natural language but children? Wow, they couldn't have set back the cause of information literacy any more if they had tried. The message was One Tool Fits All, and you can ask it questions like an oracle. Next year's ad? Reach a younger crowd! "What's twenty take away three?"

Posted by: poncedeleroy | February 8, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

So I cut 'n' paste "What's twenty take away three?" into Google and the first result is "twenty take away three = seventeen"

The second is something about Haiti.

Posted by: wiredog | February 9, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I found the quality of the Super Bowl Ads down this year. Innovation is lacking. Everybody seems to be aiming to attract attention to themselves and not to real products. GoDaddy's ads by Danica Patrick were stupid and boring. Patrick may be a racer... but what in hell does she have to do with domain names? How about telling us what GoDaddy does and why we need it?

I think that is the root of the misconception. Yes, you need to entertain; but you also need to say WHY we need it or how we would use it. I saw all of the ads as a huge assemblage of white space!

Posted by: EZReader1 | February 9, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

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