During the NCAA Final Four this evening, Google aired its “Get back to what you love” ad and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive for both the emotional impact and how well-crafted it was in encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Google posted “Get back to what you love” on its YouTube channel last week, but it got an even wider viewership tonight. At a minute long, the ad first opens on the Search homepage with queries for “quarantine,” “social distancing,” “lockdown”, “school closings,” and “restrictions de voyage” deleted. Meanwhile, the first part of “sweat pants” is amusingly removed.

It then switches to a Google Calendar event with the “virtual” in “happy hour,” “fiesta,” and ” playdate” similarly edited out. “Temporarily closed” switches to “Open” in Google Maps, with the company returning to Search for a few more examples. It powerfully ends on “family activities” dropping “pandemic.” 

The closing message is the ad’s tagline/name, with the final Search lookup being “covid vaccine near me.” It ends on the Google logo and “Learn more at cdc.gov” versus a company link. As of this evening, it has 4.7 million views on YouTube.

Various people shared how the Google ad made them “tear up” and that it was an “emotional journey.” Meanwhile, Washington Post reporter Dan Diamond has an interesting Twitter thread about what the “subtle ad” gets right.

It joins other advertising released over the past year, and is easily on the same level as “Parisian Love” released in 2009:

Also interesting to compare the Google ad to, say, the federal government’s new vaccine PSAs.

Both try to mine similar emotional terrain, but the Google ad has a much lighter touch and (in my view) ends up feeling more profound. https://t.co/TsrVQo5kMK

— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) April 4, 2021

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Google ad about ‘getting back’ after COVID-19 airs during NCAA Final Four to wide acclaim
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