Selling the Human

googleindiaDid you see Google’s new ad, released not long ago and which is part of their Google India strategy? It’s quite effective.

As described on the Google India youtube channel (where you can see a whole series of ads featuring these endearing and mischievous grandfathers):

Partitions divide countries, friendships find a way

(Use captions to translate the film in 9 languages including French, Malayalam and Urdu)

The India-Pakistan partition in 1947 separated many friends and families overnight. A granddaughter in India decides to surprise her grandfather on his birthday by reuniting him with his childhood friend (who is now in Pakistan) after over 6 decades of separation, with a little help from Google Search.

It’s a simple message: friendship — intimate human relationships — transcends the nation-state and outlast the vicissitudes of history.

But they apparently don’t transcend corporations advertizing their products (a list of products that I found using, yes, an online Google search; can you say hegemony?). After all, these are actors, representing about 1.3 billion potential customers (in India alone). The transcendental human they seem to describe and document is, in fact, created by their sales team.

The best minds of our generation have gone into identification.

So in the midst of the inevitable teary-eyed emotions such videos seem to evoke in us, we likely shouldn’t forget that this is an ad for everything exhibited in the video — from shopping to translation — as well as the technology that will eventually turn every deeply feeling human into a consuming customer who eagerly awaits the latest iteration of the iPhone (yes, I know…, I have one of those too — welcome to the machine…).

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