Google Earth’s Incredible Ad About a Little Boy Lost Will Make You Cry, and Then Smile

Saroo Brierley's story

Every now and then, a story is so remarkable that it leaves you speechless.

Saroo Brierley was lost at age 5, separated from his family in India with no clue how to get home after accidentally boarding a runaway train. He was adopted by a family in Australia. For more than 25 years, he searched for his Indian family. With nothing more than a visual memory of where he grew up, it was, he says, like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Enter the uncanny technology of Google Earth. Searching outward from the train station where he was found, Saroo logged countless hours virtually touring the streets of India—until he miraculously found the place where he grew up. From there, he found his way back to his childhood home and was reunited with his mother and his siblings.

The entire story is told in Brierley's book A Long Way Home. But c'mon, what are the odds? It's almost uncanny. You will cry. You will forget that it's an ad for Google. You will also forget about Google's privacy concerns and how eerie it is that your blind date can see every detail of your house before you meet.

One minor quibble: They subtitled the video Homeward Bound—you know, like the Disney movie where the three talking pets cross half a nation to be reunited with their family? Yeah, Brierley's story is a billion times cooler than those dogs.

@rebeccacullers Rebecca Cullers is a contributor to Adweek.