The Lalagirl On Computer

A Bitter Take on Google’s Superbowl Ad "Loretta"

Hyundai’s Smaht Pahk advertisement got everyone laughing as Chris Evans, Rachel Dratch and John Krasinski explored the company’s new smart parking feature. Bill Murray’s hilarious Groundhog Day return with Jeep made us smile. But Google’s advertisement, "Loretta", stopped us dead in our tracks. It was soft and endearing, featuring an 85-year-old man who maintained his late wife’s memories thanks to Google Assistant. Serendipitously, the man was also the grandfather of a Google employee, making the story oh-so-sweet.

Google is a champion of strategically positioning their brand in creative ways—namely narratives to capture and connect with their audiences. But while their sentiment may seem cute, this advertisement was not simply meant to warm people's souls. This intentional advertisement seems to be part of a larger agenda Google has—to make the public more comfortable with technology and human integration, specifically technology in humans. For many people, this concept sounds like science fiction, so let’s review a timeline of our dear friend, Google.

Google was founded in 1998 in California by Larry Page and Sergey Brin as an advanced search engine of its time. In 2004 Google’s Paul Buchheit created an online email application called Gmail. In 2005, Google purchased Android and in 2008, Google began marketing it to other phone manufacturers such as HTC. Google launched their first phone line in 2010, the Nexus, and in 2016, the Pixel—their first smart phone. All of these innovations hinged on the public accepting the idea of increased technological dependence.

In between the Nexus and Pixel, Google also launched a different product, specifically aimed at human and technology integration—Google Glass. The glasses were designed to be a “wearable computer featuring a head-mounted display in the form of eyeglasses.”

The glasses came with many public concerns such as constant exposure to radiation since the product was assumed to be worn constantly, as well as numerous privacy worries—not to mention the product’s undesirable look. Although the product has been considered a failure by many, it planted the seed of normalizing technology being worn on the skin rather than kept in a pocket, purse, or backpack.

Now, fast forward to 2020’s Superbowl advertisement, "Loretta," which features Google Assistant being used as a secondary memory bank for humans. Again, we see Google normalizing the idea that people can use technology to assist in small, everyday tasks—ultimately creating a strong dependence for technology. But Google doesn’t plan to stop there. In fact, they have already been testing their next potential product, a Cyborg Eye Implant.

In 2016, Google applied for a patent on a product that would involve a “laser drilling a hole in the lens capsule that protects the human eye's natural lens.” The procedure would destroy the eye’s natural lens which could then be removed and replaced with an electronic lens device that could correct vision problems among many other benefits. (Hsu, 2016) Such technological advancements leave the public wondering how ethics, privacy and security will come into play as technology and humans continue to fuse in both purpose and body.

Google as a brand survives the storms of changing technology because they continue to remind us that they are more than a product or service. They’ve convinced us that they embody change, innovation and progress—ideals that we can be a part of for a certain price. "Loretta" was nothing more than a reminder of what Google wants us to believe about them.