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Shireen Qudosi

How Google India Nailed Marketing Through Storytelling

Dec 12 2013, 06:00 AM by

Marketing Narrative


Touching on my three articles this week on narrative marketing, our next discussion centers around what to do if you can’t find an industry story to shift in a new direction. If there is no weakness a consumer can relate to, no gap in the conversation, then your job is to build on the strengths. Google India recently launched a flawless Google Search ad called “Reunion,” brilliantly building on this concept in three ways. First, it’s relatable to both generations; second, it touches on the region’s history; and third, it utilizes the product to build a bridge between both generations and regions.

In the ad, Google “facilitates a reunion between two childhood friends separated by the 1947 India-Pakistan partition in this touching ad from Google India.” The story goes like this:

In India, an elderly man named named Baldev tells his granddaughter about his childhood friend Yusuf. The two used to fly kites and steal sweets from a nearby shop and hang out in a park with an ancient gate in the city of Lahore. Inspired by his story, his granddaughter does a Google search for "park with ancient gate in Lahore" and another for "oldest sweet shop near Mochi Gate Lahore" to find the shop. She then calls the store and reaches Yusuf’s grandson, who then connects her with Yusuf. She speaks with him, telling her who she is by reminding him of his long lost friend – at which point we see the memories (and childhood) flooding back in Yusuf’s eyes. Yusuf’s grandson then Googles to arrange his grandfather’s Indian visa and flight, while the granddaughter does the same on her end to ensure everything goes smoothly for their arrival. In the end, we’re moved to tears by Baldev and Yusuf’s heartwarming reunion.

India and Pakistan have a volatile present, but not too long ago they were one country – divided over night from a movement fueled by the region’s then British rule and its strategy to divide the country according to faith groups. It’s a raw wound for the region and the people that lived through it, most of whom are still alive today. For today’s generation, partition is a history and nationalism supersedes. Seen by many as cinema in under three minutes, “Reunion” embarks on a powerful message that hits at the core, rekindling past friendships that existed before man-made barriers and painting a powerful portrait of possibility for today’s generation.Quoting NewsCorp Senior Vice President, Raju Narisetti, “If anyone doubts brands can’t become compelling storytellers, try watching this Google Hindi video without tearing.”

Once establishing “Reunion” with over 4 million hits in under a month, Google India launched a successive series of smaller ads staring these two long-lost best friends and their grandkids. The narrative is the same in each one. They’re recounting the past or simply enjoying old age together. At some point, a question pops up that prompts them to ask their grandkids - who then refer to Google Search. The ad has become a part of the viewer’s family because we can all relate to old snarky grandparents with their idiosyncrasies. It’s charming, it’s relatable, and it’s already laid the groundwork in the first “Reunion” ad. Here’s where Google India continues to get it right: instead of reinventing the wheel, they build on a winning strategy with something that has already entered hearts and minds.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Cool Stuff for Small Businesses

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