When in doubt, strong storytelling wins.
Google broke through the noise of the ads that aired during Super Bowl LIV by staying rooted in human connection driven by strong storytelling.
In the tear-jerking ad, a man uses Google Assistant to reminisce about his late wife, Loretta, by asking the technology to help him remember her via searching for photos, places they visited, her favorite movie, and more. This is a story of authenticity and honesty, based on the grandfather of a Google employee. By leveraging strong storytelling and images that clearly came from a family album, the ad forged a stronger connection with consumers who already know what Google does. This resulted in the Loretta Google ad ranking as a top LIV Super Bowl ad across the board.
Juxtaposing a sad story to the light-hearted, high-budget commercials traditionally played during the largest football event of the year was a risk. In 2015, the Journal of Marketing published a study conducted by top marketing professors at Oxford University, Columbia University, and Babson College. The study tracked the effectiveness of ads played during Hulu programs resulting in emotional dissonance. In the end, participants were less able to connect to ads whose energy did not match their program.
Google successfully managed to navigate this emotional territory by focusing on the positive benefits of the technology rather than the sadness behind the story. They focused on connecting with viewers rather than being sad for the sake of being sad, digging into the humanness of their product.
In the end, the risk was worth it. By connecting with consumers through authentic, strong storytelling, Google was able to win Super Bowl LIV.