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Google Old School.

Is it ironic that on the day that Google reports disappointing earnings in The New York Times, it runs its first ever double-truck 4-color spread in said Times?  Google and its ad agency BBH are dialing up old school advertising in this new media world. Their Chrome TV ad with the father and newly minted collegiate daughter videoconferencing back and forth over the web is brilliant. (The wrinkle that the mom has just passed away (we think) adding a little Sons of Anarchy reality to the story certainly shows an evolution of the medium. Remember the “Sophie” spot?)

Now I don’t want to go all old school here but Joseph Jaffe and all those pop marketing people who cashed in on the “TV spot being dead, long live the social web” can now write new chapters. When Stub Hub, I mean Hub Spot, came down off its “inbound marketing” high horse a number of months ago and started sending out more emails than a belly flattening supplement, I knew the madness had stopped. Ish.

Google is still amazing. A brand that has lost some of its Is-Does way, it is still is playing in important, meaningful worlds.  

I once railed about “Google’s culture of technological obesity,” but have to admit there is a marketing hand at the wheel. Chromebook, Motorola, mapping services, Google+ Hangouts and AdSense make for strange bedfellows yet good marketing oversight fueled by tough decision-making will prevail.  And the freshest fish in the city for all NY employees doesn’t hurt either. Peace!

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Google is advertising now.  On TV, in The New York Times.  Using BBH. On the Super Bowl.  Hmm….this advertising stuff must work.  Oh yeah, that’s where most of their money comes from.  Money they will soon be throwing into a dark hole known as the hardware business (Motorola purchase).  Hopefully, the hole won’t be too deep so it can learn, correct and prosper.

I often write “Campaigns come and go, a powerful brand idea is indelible,” which makes people think I don’t like campaigns. I do.  Campaigns are organizing principles.  Google, a company that has made bazillions on a search algorithm that is an organizing principle, has finally come off its slightly elevated soap box and decided to advertise.  But it’s relatively new to the practice. Luckily, it has the aforementioned ad agency BBH to guide it.

The TV is emotional and beautiful.  The print is whimsical, fun and smart.  I’m not feeling a campaign idea as yet and, frankly, that’s quite fine.  This is new territory for Google. And for BBH and its labs. There will be some reinvention going on here no doubt. And one day (before trivestiture) Google will become a top 10 advertising spender.  Zero to 60 in…  Peace!

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“It will change the way people work, share and communicate” is a sentence we’ve heard hundreds of times. And a sentence we’ve read in ads, thousands of times.  This sentence was used in an article today to describe how businesses will use Goggle+ Circles.  According to the same article Google+ is a social network, like Facebook. It kind of looks like a clean version of Facebook but acts more like Twitter, organized to feed information of those one follows.  Then again, it displays pictures and videos in the feed as does Facebook. The buttons and apps in the side margins of Google+ are cool, offering the ability to gerrymander friends and acquaintances into groups and also to do video chats through an exciting feature called hangouts (which I have yet to try), so that feels new — but kind of hidden.

The product managers at Google say Circle and/or Hangouts will change the way people work, share and communicate, and they could be right – but not based on the current mish-mash of free hand messaging in the market today.  Google+ released to techies in Beta because techies thrive on confusion.  They eat it for breakfast. But for the rest of the web Google+ still doesn’t have an Is-Does and so is compared to Twitter and Facebook.  The killer application (video circles) is underutilized and under understood.  I do believe video hangouts or cirlces (or whatever they are) will be a game changer – especially in training and education and problem solving.  But right now the whole Google+ thing is a morass of huh.  Were I Google, Google Labs or BBH, I’d be working on a Super Bowl ad (I know, it’s against their better judgment) that distills the Google+ value and showcases the ease of multiparty video chat to the world.  Google+ was a horrible name. A lazy name for what may be a huge product in 3 years. If properly brand managed. It is still a product in need of an Is-Does.  Peace!

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Someone Tweeted yesterday about Google+, so I followed the link and watched a couple of tutes.  My first impression on the Is-Does was that it’s an advanced like button.  Then I noted something called Google Circles, which was one of the tutorials grouped in the total offering labeled Google+ Project.  So Google Plus has grown into a project, which is kinda cool and offers leeway to do a number of things without completely committing.

I love the idea of Google Circles, with its drag-and-drop community grouping interface.  It seems a nice foil to the Facebook mass post approach.  But I was still in like button land and wasn’t quite sure how the circle platformed.  The app felt transformative and exciting, but then I had to go to work.

Today I’m reading that the Google+ Project might be a social network.  A Facebook killer? We all know how Google Buzz turned out as a social networking platform (over ambitious and over engineered). It was another example of the company’s culture of technological obesity. But this project seems like it might be on to something. The ballast for me is Circles. Luckily, I haven’t aged since high school, though a number of people with whom I treaded the halls have. Having friended them on Facebook, I would not know them to meet them so the need to cull does have its place.

That said, culling can be very high school and it’s not what the web is all about. Facebook Groups is a way to cull, but it doesn’t feel exclusionary. It’s a good feature.  I need to spend more time with Google Circles (the mobile portions are brilliant) before really weighing in.  My feeling is that there is something powerful here, but Google needs to remember why it exists as it moves the +Project forward.  Not to kill Microsoft. Not to kill Fotchbook.  To deliver the world’s information in one click. Exciting Peace!

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