Ad of the Day: Google Play

Sharing media across devices is so seamless, it defies the laws of science

As we've noted a couple of times before, Google is quite fond of giving old-school demonstrations using near-obsolete technologies to explain, metaphorically, the mystical inner workings of its own futuristic gadgets and services.

Think of the Chrome Speed Tests, for example, or the Google Maps gyroscope—ads that featured hand-crafted, byzantine, real-world contraptions whose movements and behaviors were meant to mirror those of the Google products, whose virtualness—the lack of a compelling physicality—makes them harder to grasp conceptually. The videos often end up having a retro feel, quaint and nostalgic, which can be mistaken for hipsterism. But it's more ruthless than that. Google employs old technologies because they're recognizable, but wants to eradicate them, too.

The first Google Play spot, back in March, was a good example of this. It featured a suitcase, powered by a hand crank, filled with old-timey media gadgets—a music box, a push-button telephone, a reel-to-reel film projector, a canvas projection screen—all interacting physically, to represent the virtual movement of sharable media through the Google Play system. It was a delightful spot, well worth its 83 seconds of viewing time.

Now, in the new spot below, Google Play moves on to a more familiar advertising trope—the faux science experiment. Once again, the point is to emphasize the seamless cross-updating of one's data pile across devices. This time, the data is represented by a yellow-orange liquid, and the devices are beakers. A man in a white lab coat first demonstrates the less efficient way of sharing data—it involves a rubber tube and some unpleasant-seeming siphoning (the liquid looks a bit too much like urine, though maybe that's the point). Then he shows you the better way—the beakers just magically mirror one another as he fills them or empties them (by, ugh, drinking them).

Thus, the spot implies, Google Play is literally magical—it defies the laws of science.

The ad, as always with Google, looks great and is expertly paced. Still, it seems to fall into a bit of a no man's land. Its central premise isn't really that revolutionary—people have been moving data around without a cable for some time now. And beyond that, it's neither entertaining enough to really amuse, nor exquisitely crafted enough to fascinate. In the end, it feels like Google is dumbing down the message a bit—making sure that you "get it."

Normally, Google gets it. With this spot, though, I'd question the hypothesis.

Client: Google Play
Agency: Google Studio G
Production Company: Google Studio G
Production Company: Goon Media
Agency Producer: Heather Hurford
Agency Producer: Yovel Schwartz
Producer: Nina Dluhy-Miller
Producer: Yovel Schwartz
Writer/Director: Jonathan Zames
Production Design: Sarah Lawlor
Production Design: Syyn Labs
Practical Effects: Syyn Labs
Director of Photography: Jesse Eisenhardt
Editor: Ben Leavitt
Visual Effects: Corey Ryan
Visual Effects: HOPR
Colorist: Bob Curreri
Sound Design: Norman Magnuson
Sound Design: Noisy Neighbors