Google Just Made One of the Most Compelling Ads Yet About Gender Transition

Meet Jake, and the gym where he belonged

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Transgender issues have been front-page news all summer, though brands have clearly had a hard time knowing what their role should be in the conversation. But now Google—one of the world's most powerfully visible corporate LGBT advocates—is out with a new spot for Pride Month that tells the deeply poignant story of a transgender man and the small business that helped him during his transition.

The first half of the spot below focuses on Jake, who was born female but identified as male from a young age. The second half introduces City Gym in Kansas City, Mo., which has given Jake a place where he can feel comfortable getting to know his changing body and find support for him and his friends. (Another gym's tagline, "No judgments," would be pretty apt at this place.)

The spot, by Venables Bell & Partners, is wonderfully made. The story is skillfully and evocatively told, and never feels exploitative. The inclusion of YouTube videos in which Jake shows his transition are particularly resonant in describing his journey (and yes, Google's ongoing behind-the-scenes role in it).

It's also unapologetic about the business tie-in—the spot promotes the Google My Business tools for small businesses—which is a good thing, as it doesn't feign disinterested altruism and presents a tangible case for supporting LGBT-friendly companies.

Google has done meaningful work in this space for years. Once again, it's leading by example.


Client: Google

Brand: My Business

Spot: "City Gym"

Agency: Venables Bell & Partners

Chairman: Paul Venables

Executive Creative Director: Will McGinness

Creative Director: Lee Einhorn

Art Director: Avery Oldfield

Copywriter: Adam Wolinsky

Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen

Agency Producer: Amy Gatzert

Production Company: Uber Content

Director: Eliot Rausch

Director of Photography: Chayse Irvin

Executive Producer: Preston Lee

Producer: Micki Poklar

Editing, Visual Effects: Lumberyard

Editor: Kevin Bagley

Visual Effects Producer: Zoe Zaitzeff

Sound Design: 740 Sound

Sound Designer: Rommel Molina

Music: Songs for Film and TV

Mix: Lime

Business Lead: Colleen McGee

Account Director: Robert Woods

Account Supervisor: Brenda Pyles

Account Manager: Ariel Rosen

Senior Project Manager: Shannon Duncan

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.