Its barely three-and-a-half minutes long but the tumultuous flood of reactions the latest O&M ad for Google has evoked has left even the agency suprised. National creative director Abhijit Awasthi who worked on the campaign downplayed the huge number of likes and shares it got within hours of going public.
“The number of hits, shares and likes and the way it has gone viral are in the end just figures,” Awasthi told dna. “It is the sentiment, emotions and sheer number of people who said they wept on seeing it is what has come as a surprise. I have never seen such a huge response to any communication before,” he said. “It is a humbling experience.”
Google’s brief to the O&M was simple: bring Google closer to people. “Since its well known for its search function, we wanted to build on that. In a way we wanted to show that this is not merely a technical function but can create magical discoveries,” explains Awasthi. “This is a very warm and familiar brand. For people to sit and up and take notice, we had to think of something really big and epic. It feels good to have hit bull’s eye.”
“Google Search helps you find whatever you’re looking for. We’ve brought this idea to life in a short video showing how human passion and hope can overcome time and borders. In this story, a young Indian Suman reunites her grandfather with his childhood friend (now in Pakistan) following six decades of separation since the partition of India-with a little help from Google. We hope this is a reflection of the many stories of reunion.”
Karachi-born Mumbai-resident Firoza Punthakey-Mistry should know what that feels like. “Any artistic effort which will help soothe hurt feelings and draw people on both sides of the border close is always laudable,” said this curator of the unique art exhibition Everlastign Flame of Zorastrianism at the Univeristy of London in October. “We have memories of coming by boat from Karachi to Mumbai. Legs of mutton would be brought while condiments and flowers would be taken back,” she remembers.
Delhi resident Hirachand Makhija, 71, shares her sentiment. He said that he keeps watching the ad again and again. “Since I don’t know to operate the Internet, I’ve cajoled my grandson to put it in a loop for me,” he laughs. “Paani mein laathi maarne se woh alag thode hota hai (You can’t split water by hitting it with a stick). We are one and meant to be. It could still happen without the interference of our political and religious leaders,” hoped the retired businessman with fond memories of Lahore. “We lived near the civil lines and my father’s shop was very close. I wonder if my own friends can be found with as much ease as the ad.”
His grandson Jatin injects some reality by interjecting, “Its only an ad, papaji.” The management student says the ad reminds him of Airtel’s 2011 Kantilal Godbole campaign. There too a grandfather seeks revenge for how Godbole had kissed the grandmother (his then girlfriend) and run off. The grandson uses Facebook to find the offender and the grandfather plants a peck on his surprised wife.