In the midst of the Grammy night last week, Google utilized it’s well-placed ad time to directly promote one thing – suicide prevention.
The commercial was first shown on television during the Grammys after Logic performed his latest single 1-800-273-8255, and starts with a brief mention that all footage was captured on the new Pixel 2 before introducing us to a set of regular people. They are happy and social, living life as many of us do. After a series of party, family, and dog walking scenes, the camera focuses on the album cover of Logic’s single 1-800-273-8255 before revisiting our actors and letting the audience know that these seemingly happy people also use this number when they are struggling with issues like suicidal thoughts. The commercial ends with Google asking viewers not to purchase a phone, but to question their lens. Instead of drawing attention back to the phone, Google ends the commercial by promoting the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Google’s commercial direction brings to light the focus many companies have now on corporate social responsibility and how society is shaping the conversation. In an entire one minute commercial, Google and/or the Pixel were mentioned for a mere 6 seconds. Instead of focusing on what people can buy, Google focused on who / the type of company they can buy and believe in. by focusing on an emotional connection. Google took this time to help bring this difficult to talk about issue to light and to break the stereotypes that come with it. Many assume those with suicidal tendencies are all the same, a quiet outsider, but it often is not the case. Many are affected by mental illnesses and go about their day as expected like you and me.
Bringing the focus back to digital marketing, the conversation sparked by this ad ranges from absolute praise for Google’s concern for the consumer’s wellbeing to of their manipulation of a delicate topic. Those with opinions have made them known on across all social media platforms, raising product awareness. While I was unable to find exact numbers, I wonder how the 4,755,935 Youtube views and 1,635 comments have affected Pixel 2 sales or if this ad was created with the intent to increase brand image and awareness than actual conversions. Should more companies focus their ads on the consumer and society issues or should they continue to steer clear of manipulating sensitive topics?