NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Google is not known for its marketing; the product markets itself. But as Google attempts to translate its one mega-success -- search advertising -- into other lines of business, marketing is becoming a more important part of what the search giant is all about.
Lorraine Twohill heads marketing for Google on a global basis as VP-global marketing, which means a lot more than most people think. It encompasses everything from TV and billboard ads in Japan -- one market that Google doesn't dominate -- to videos for products such as Chrome or Docs and Google's first TV ad, a Super Bowl spot called "Parisian Love."
Google's marketing takes different shapes all over the globe and must be relevant to countries with high broadband penetration rates, such as the U.S. or Korea, as well as places where people predominantly access the web using mobile phones or in internet cafés. It has no agency of record, but rather works with several agencies, including Wieden & Kennedy Japan and Bartle Bogle Hegarty in the U.S. and Europe.
Ms. Twohill joined Google from European travel site Opodo seven years ago, and assumed the global marketing role two years ago. She currently manages marketing teams in more than 30 countries.
Ad Age: Google believes in the web, obviously, but are there limits to the web's branding power?
Ms. Twohill: The web is central to everything we do. Every campaign starts with the web. We will always lead with our own products, and we track the results and how they perform, whether it's AdWords or our display network. We have a lot of fun with YouTube because it's such a creative platform. We are a client of our product teams for a number of reasons. We can turn those [campaigns] into case studies for advertisers and agencies. There's no model that can work everywhere, and no model that can work for every product.
Ad Age: Google has aired one TV ad in the U.S.; does it use TV in other markets?
Ms. Twohill: In the U.S. we are known for going after digitally aware audiences, and they are mostly on the web. In Japan, we do run TV advertising and other offline ads. Wieden & Kennedy has been our partner [in Japan] for a long time and they understand us. It's a complicated market; we're not No. 1. A lot of new types of marketing are coming out of Japan. All billboards in Japan, you can point your mobile phone at them and get information from them -- all of them. E-commerce on mobile is very, very big and so is reading books on mobile phones.
Ad Age: Most people don't think much about their web browser, so how are you marketing Chrome?
Ms. Twohill: Chrome is about having people understand what a browser is and how to improve their experience on the web. We did a lot of online marketing with video ads and we track everything to see the impact. In the U.S., we tested Google TV ads with Chrome. In Europe, where there is less awareness of browsers, we have done outdoor campaigns for Chrome. We have a site, whatbrowser.org, that can test the speed of your browser.
Ad Age: How do you decide which products to market in different countries?
Ms. Twohill: We would not market heavy broadband products like YouTube or Google Earth in countries that do not have broadband yet. Likewise, we wouldn't market products you have to download in countries that are internet cafe heavy; rather, I would prefer to market e-mail, instant messaging and search. Gmail is perfect for internet cafe culture. Gchat is very popular in internet cafes, especially in the Middle East.
Ad Age: Talk about your approach to mobile marketing. Selling a device like the Nexus One is new for Google, correct?
Ms. Twohill: Mobile is an exciting growth area where we see huge changes in user behavior. We do a lot of marketing of all our products but also are partnering with the telco operators. The Droid campaign with Verizon helped tell the story of Android. It's a partnership with the carriers -- we believe in openness in the community, and Android is very much an open platform. Verizon and T-Mobile are so good at what they do, as well as HTC, to tell the story of the Google product in their offering. It's a lot of fun to work with their marketing teams.
Ad Age: YouTube is a powerful distributor, but can it be used to brand Google?
Ms. Twohill: In Germany, we have a program called "Secret Talents," which runs every year on television. The media has really gotten behind it because they want their citizens to make it to 02 in Berlin. To me, that is a beautiful campaign. Another one of my favorites was the YouTube Symphony Orchestra program; we collaborated with the London Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall and several fantastic conductors and musicians to pull together an online orchestra and summit. We ran campaigns in more than 20 countries over a few quarters and asked for submissions from every country in the world, and brought the winners -- one of which was a brain surgeon from Bermuda -- to Carnegie Hall for a performance. It was a great show, and camera crews from more than 20 countries showed up.
Ad Age: Does Google still have a marketing presence in China?
Ms. Twohill: We have a small team on the ground in China and it is small business-focused. A lot of the work we do overseas is helping large advertisers and agencies come to grips with the web. In China, for example, you have a lot of companies that really want to export and want to target foreign countries. And we are very good at that -- AdWords is a great platform for that. If you are a large marketer in China or Germany, you are facing the same issues: How do you scale globally? How do you move with the times and how to keep up user behavior that is changing so quickly? Everyone is facing the same knowledge gap no matter where you are in the world.