The Joy of ‘Dear Sophie,’ One of Google’s Early Humanizing Hits

The VIA Agency's Greg Smith picks his three favorite ads

Human stories lend a warmth to cold, virtual brands. Google Chrome
Headshot of Tim Nudd

It took a while for Google to learn how to do brand advertising.

The company, founded in 1998, didn’t embrace emotional storytelling until a decade later. An early success was “Parisian Love,” a spot from late 2009 that told a story of romantic love entirely through screen shots of Google searches. A surprise hit online, “Parisian Love,” part of Google’s “Search Stories” project, even earned a slot on the Super Bowl in 2010.

A year after that, Google Creative Lab, working with BBH, unveiled another now-classic spot, this one for the then 3-year-old Chrome browser. The new spot likewise humanized the company and lent warmth to a cold tech product through a story of love, again told through screen shots. This time, it was about a father’s love for his daughter, and the digital scrapbook he kept about her life, thanks to Google products.

It was called “Dear Sophie.”

The VIA Agency’s chief creative officer, Greg Smith, chose “Dear Sophie” as one of his three favorite ads when we sat down with him for our “Best Ads Ever” video series.

“I was, first of all, surprised it was from Google, because at that time I really just thought of Google as a technology company, and they hadn’t been doing much traditional branding or advertising,” Smith said.

“I just thought they did a masterful job of placing their purpose for being across this life story. It wasn’t forced. It wasn’t like they were making stuff up. … Whatever you want to say about technology, yeah, it can be used to destroy, but it can also be used to create wonder and magic. I thought they did an incredible job with that.”

Hear more from Smith in the video above about his other favorite ads—which include a brave stunt by the board game Monopoly, as well as a beautifully crafted 2013 spot by VIA for 1800 Tequila, which Smith says still provokes quite a reaction when people see it today.

The full 1800 spot is posted below.

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