Google's data-driven Black History Month ad has been getting rousing applause from live audiences

Brand highlights Black American achievements that happen to be all-time achievements

Published On
Feb 18, 2020

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A current commercial from Google is based on a simple, data-driven premise: #TheMostSearched, per the campaign’s tagline. If you haven’t seen it already (it’s gone viral), you can watch it above. Per Google’s description: “This Black History Month, we’re celebrating some of #TheMostSearched moments and individuals in America. To find them, we used U.S.-based Google Trends Data to identify Black American achievements that were searched more than any others between January 1, 2004—when U.S. Search Data first became available—and July 1, 2019.” The ad packs an emotional punch given that it serves up chill-inducing clips of the likes of Prince (“the most searched guitar solo”), Maya Angelou (“the most searched female poet”) and Martin Luther King Jr. (“the most searched speech”).

A group of Ad Age staffers got to watch the ad on a giant screen last Thursday at the Howard Gilman Opera House, an ornate, historic 2,109-seat venue in Brooklyn, when Google presented it as a part of a commercial break during the winter edition of Pop-Up Magazine. The search giant has been a frequent sponsor of the acclaimed 11-year-old “live magazine” that tours the country each quarter—a cross between inspiring TED talks and a variety show, complete with a house band that provides musical accompaniment. (The current show had stops in Oakland, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., before Brooklyn.) What made the presentation of Google’s ad particularly powerful is that before it aired on the big screen, it was introduced live by Morgan Elise Johnson, a co-founder of Chicago-based The Triibe, who spoke movingly about searching online to learn about her ancestors—her own personal black history.

Anyway, it’s quite a remarkable experience to watch a live presentation of an ad with 100 percent viewability. No one could skip it or ignore it, and the spot prompted rousing applause and even cheers at the end. It’ll be shown again tonight at Pop-Up’s show at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, on Thursday at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, and, closing out the tour, on Saturday at the Hogg Memorial Auditorium in Austin, Texas.