The 10 Best Commercials of 2011

The year's most impeccable craft and storytelling in advertising

Best of 2011, Lists

About the Author

Tim Nudd is creative editor at Adweek.

GOOGLE CHROME • Dear Sophie4

Agency: Google Creative Lab • Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty,
New York • Editing: Lost Planet • Effects: Black Hole

Using the simplest of visuals, Google has become one of advertising's most compelling storytellers. "Parisian Love," a sweeping story of romance told entirely through dynamic screen shots of Google searches, was a surprise hit on the 2010 Super Bowl. In 2011, the company expanded on that model for an inventive, infectious campaign for its Chrome browser under the line, "The Web is what you make of it." As the "Search Stories" campaign did in 2010, the Chrome spots stitched together remarkably affecting narratives entirely from screen shots, subject lines, keystrokes, and clicks—this time moving beyond the search bar to showcase Google products like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps. Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber lent star power to the campaign with ads showing how they built their empires online. But the campaign's crowning achievement was "Dear Sophie," a humbler execution, set to a simple piano score, that showed a young father using Google tools to fill a digital scrapbook with notes, images, and videos of his young daughter, which he intends to share with her "someday." The spot invariably leaves viewers choked up, and casts Google, often seen as a tyrant, as a facilitator of love. Data never felt so human.

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