Have you seen the Google Ad from 2011 called “dear.sophie.lee”? Yes it’s an old video, but what this ad did was single-handedly propel Google Chrome from barely a blip on the radar screen of web browsers when it launched in 2008 to the top web browser in the world today.
At the time of it’s public release in December of 2008, the biggest feature in Chrome was the “omnibox” that replaced the separate URL box and search box in the browser. It was a big deal at the time but not the sole reason to try out a new browser. Internet Explorer, by comparison, held an impressive 65% share of the browser market.
Google’s hope was that with the integrated search and URL field they could guarantee more searches on Google which already captured over two-thirds of search traffic at the time. At first, their ads were focused on the speed with which the new browser loaded. At the time, Internet Explorer and especially Firefox which was also in front of them were slow to boot and get results quickly. Here’s one of their more clever early ads:
The ad did fairly well but it was speaking largely to the audience that was already using Chrome: namely the tech-savvy early adopter. Momentum continued to slowly grow for Chrome over the next year as more of these ads were rolled out but then Google had a revolutionary out of the box idea. Up until that point they had focused their videos on the features and tools. With the release of “dear.sophie.lee” they focused on the user and how that user uses those tools to augment their lives. The browser became a backdrop for the bigger story. If you haven’t seen “dear.sophie.lee” take a look. If you are a parent, get a box of tissues.
It’s direct. It’s emotional. They stopped focusing on the product and started focusing on the lifestyle their products aspire to create. They started speaking to a larger audience. More people can relate to being a parent and wanting to have the tools to capture every moment of their children’s lives. It’s moving.
They used spectacular storytelling to weave a story based in reality that could appeal to everyone. It uses a simple piano score without words that builds in pace as the video unfolds until finally slowing at that pinnacle moment when the Dad is reflecting on his daughters life going by so fast. Nearly stopping as he admits that he can’t wait to share all of these moments he’s saved with her. The music carefully builds and controls the emotional connection with the viewer. Bam. Every parent feels that.
This video is hugely effective because it ties the knot between technology and lifestyle. You can’t put a dot on the timeline of browser usage and say “There! That is the moment that directly made Google Chrome become the number one browser.” But the “dear.sophie.lee” video was huge for them garnering the interest of millions of casual web users who may have otherwise just stuck with Internet Explorer. In May of 2012 Google Chrome edged out IE to become the top web browser and as of October 2013, Google Chrome has increased it’s margin at the top growing to 40.44% while Internet Explorer has dropped to just 28.96%.
A Google spokesperson I talked to about the video stated the following regarding Google’s inspiration for creating it:
The ‘Google Chrome: Dear Sophie’ spot was inspired by a collection of true stories about parents using technology to capture the special memories–big and small–of their child from birth to adulthood. Our goal for the spot was to visually represent this narrative and illustrate a father’s use of technology, whether it be Gmail, YouTube or other products, to communicate with this growing daughter.”
The whole idea behind this post is that you shouldn’t feel trapped in a box because of what you do or what your product does. This was a web browser. Google could have continued to create cool videos to show how fast Chrome is or how secure it is and all the great whiz bang features it has. But they didn’t and it won for them big. What about you? What are you doing for your video marketing to think outside the box?
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