Google's New Ad Suggests It Can Help Heal 60 Years Of Enmity Between India And Pakistan

The latest ad from Google India connects on an intimate level, but is placed within the context of decades’ worth of tense history.

In it, an old man named Baldev tells the story of a long-lost childhood friend to his granddaughter, visiting Delhi from Mumbai. He is moved as he recounts how he and his friend Yusuf would playfully steal a type of candy in their hometown of Lahore. They had to part ways after the Partition of India in 1947, which created the nation of Pakistan. Baldev never got to say goodbye, and it still bothers him. This compels his granddaughter to go on a secret search mission using Google.

Hundreds of thousands died during the partition, three wars have been fought over disputed land, and tens of thousands have died for claims on the province of Kashmir. Relations between the governments of both nations remain incredibly tense.

So, within that context, enjoy the cinematic and sweetly sentimental ad:

Google India and ad agency Ogilvy India worked together to create a film with a satisfying story that demonstrates some subtleties of Google’s search features.

Last July, Google India launched a campaign called “Start Searching India” that promoted features like translation tools and flight searches that Indian users were not using regularly. Google’s research found the campaign to be a flop, and so this current ad is meant to reinvigorate the promotion.

Sandeep Menon, Google India’s marketing director, told the site First Post that they knew they needed a “magical story” that would finally catch their users’ attention.

Ogilvy’s job was to craft an emotional film that was big enough to enter the mainstream. That’s why “the film needed to play on such a huge scale, and strike the right chords,” said Abhijit Avasthi, executive creative director of Ogilvy India. The context that could provide this scale was the Partition.

In terms of reaching the mainstream, the ad is already a success, with almost 900,000 YouTube views in its first 24 hours online. The Twitter conversation regarding “Google Search: Reunion” is overwhelmingly positive. Mumbai-based musician Clinton Cerejo is also receiving plenty of comments for his charming soundtrack.

Google’s choice of a historical context much bigger than just the lives of two old men was meant to create buzz rather than controversy, and it’s working.

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