Google’s Soft-Power Approach to Super Bowl Ads

When it came to the Super Bowl, Google opted not to put the spotlight on flashy new products but rather to emphasize the good it can do for the world at a time when it’s “don’t be evil” slogan of yore has become prime material for parody.

Its first commercial, 100 billion words, centered on Google Translate, which, as the name of the ad spot suggests, leverages AI to translate billions of words across hundreds of languages every day. The ad, which showed a variety of use cases for Translate, focused on people from different cultures coming together, and while acknowledging that words can “divide,” it ultimately landed on a note of unity, suggesting that the most-searched words are such phrases as, “How are you?,” “Thank you,” and “I love you.”

Google’s second ad, Job Search for Veterans, highlighted the ease with which veterans can search for jobs using the company’s core business. This feature is part of Grow with Google, an initiative that leverages the search giant’s power to equip people with information in a world that seems increasingly hostile to those without advanced digital skills.

Taking a grimmer approach, the New Yorker pointed out on Monday that the commercials during America’s prime television event of the year were a case study in technological dread. Ads for products as seemingly disparate as Pringles, tax software, and beer pointed to a present haunted by tech’s infiltration of domestic life.

A behind-the-scenes report on Davos from the New York Times suggests the paranoia might be prescient.

Joe Zappa is Street Fight’s managing editor.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Follow him on Twitter @joe_zappa, and shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.
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