Super Bowl ads usually feature celebrities, animals, and other kinds of appealing imagery. The idea of spending millions of dollars to show a nearly all-text ad in this most elite (and expensive!) of placements seems ludicrous. But, in 2010, that’s what Google, which had never run such a high-profile television ad, did.1 Their “Parisian Love” ad tells an epic love story entirely through the Google search window.
A series of web searches tells the tale. The first entry, typed by unseen hands, is “study abroad paris france.” Soon, the searches progress to “cafe near the louvre” and “impress a french girl.” Eventually, the phrases turn to jobs, churches, and “how to assemble a crib.” The ad was one of the most liked ...