The pandemic has not only given many of us the opportunity to deepen our relationships with those we live with given how much time we’re all forced to spend together—in a way, it’s made us become so much closer to (or dependent on) our connected devices. Our gear helps us to maintain family ties, stay on top of our jobs and (sadly) sometimes plays baby-sitter for parents simultaneously trying to juggle work projects and watch over kids cooped up at home.
A new campaign from Google highlights the many roles our devices can play in 30 films starring and directed by actor/comedian Fred Armisen, who morphs into an array of characters highlighting the features of Google products like the Nest Hub, Chromecast and the Pixel phone.
The new effort was created in-house out of Google and kicked off in mid-July on the Google Store and on social media. Armisen has appeared in a new film each day to promote the “Daily Special,” a discount offering on one of the brand’s devices, each of which has been "renamed" on the Google Store to highlight a different feature. The Google Pixel4A becomes “The Google Portrait Machine,” the Nest Hub becomes the “Hair DoDoer” or the “Homework Helper” and the Nest Cam becomes the “Bird Spotter,” for example.
“The idea for the campaign was, ‘Let’s celebrate the individuality of these products and their users,’” says Christian Haas, global creative director at Google. “The Nest, the home hub, they are different things for different people. For me my Nest Hub is a picture frame that is a time machine. But for you, that Nest Hub could be something that helps you cook. The favorite thing for each device is very unique for different people even moreso now because we’re all stuck at home.”
"Smart home devices help different people in different ways and now with so many more people staying in and working from home they are discovering entirely new use cases for these products," adds Adrienne Hayes, VP-Marketing, Google devices and services. "For me, Nest Hub Max provided daily delight for reliving all my travel memories with my revolving Google Photos albums. Now, I'm using it regularly to talk to our delivery people at my front door with my Nest doorbell and even introduced my new puppy to my mom and sister thousands of miles away on video chat."
Armisen adeptly steps into a spectrum of roles to illustrate such dynamics: a man trying to keep in touch with his dad (he also plays the dad); an office guy attempting to meet with his team (as his wife interrupts by blending smoothies); a meditation guru trying to snag 30 minutes of me time, and so on.
The idea required buy-in and cooperation from various teams at Google, says Haas. “It doesn’t sound complicated, but it is quite complex to change e-commerce to feature different SKUs in that they have different names.”
Google teamed with Armisen and production company Radical Media, who reps him for spots, to shoot all the films on location in a home outside of Los Angeles.
Armisen, Haas says, was “remarkable. He’s one of the most collaborative people when it came to brainstorming.”
The team also had to follow strict safety rules, give COVID production restrictions. “Radical did a great job in navigating the COVID limitations,” Haas says. Most of the team observed through a remote video village platform, with only about a dozen allowed on location, limited to no more than four people on set at a time—so it helped that Armisen was both actor and director.
Outside of the films, the campaign also includes display, social and CRM.
“The Daily Special” effort does double duty in terms of promoting both the Google Store and the brand’s hardware. For the former, Haas says that the point is not to promote the Google store over other its retail partners such as Best Buy or Target. Rather, it’s for added awareness, especially for consumers who aren’t yet comfortable going out into the world. “There are lots of people who still don’t want that contact right now so it’s to help those people realize they have this option,” he says.
The campaign also strives to build awareness for the brand’s smart home products. “It’s still a very nascent category,” Haas says. “You don’t need to explain why people need a good phone, but there are still a lot of people who don’t know how these products can help them at home. Our goal is to communicate that you can get the same kind of help from our products you can count on from Google [search].”