Google’s COVID-19 vaccine ad didn’t make me cry – but it did make me hopeful

Chris Davies - Apr 5, 2021, 11:38am CDT
Google’s COVID-19 vaccine ad didn’t make me cry – but it did make me hopeful

Tear-jerker adverts can be tricky when it comes to encouraging changes of behavior, but it seems like Google has struck a nerve with its latest about the COVID-19 vaccine and a potential return to normalcy. Aired for the first time during the NCAA Final Four game this weekend, the minute-long commercial is a reminder of what the “new normal” has been over the past twelve months or so.

It is, of course, a reflection on virtual hangouts and playdates, social distancing, closed businesses, and generally the compromises and sacrifices people and companies have made in order to weather the pandemic. As with Google’s best commercials, it’s delivered with the same simplicity as the search product itself.

After those reminders, there’s a message for just how that normality can be achieved again. That’s COVID-19 vaccinations, of course, with Google preparing a special results page with specific information about the current state of play for immunizations. There are details on where you can find the vaccine nearby, what the qualifying factors are in your area, and which side-effects you could expect after the injection.

It also includes a map of vaccinations and an overview of the latest data. In the US, as of the most recent numbers at time of publication, that means 165 million doses given and over 61 million people fully vaccinated – since most of the vaccines in use right now require two doses before someone is considered “fully” immunized. That’s still less than 19-percent of the total US population, mind.

At time of publication, the advert – which was actually uploaded to Google’s YouTube account more than a week ago – has been viewed over 7 million times.

Now I’ll confess, I didn’t get misty-eyed while watching Google’s ad myself. Maybe that’s because I went into it knowing that it was going to try to tug my heart-strings (though saying that I’m someone who consistently gets emotional watching Sandra Bullock vehicle “The Blind Side” so clearly I’m not entirely a cold robot).

Nonetheless making a topic personal, in order to elicit a personal response, is a good one. As we’ve seen during the pandemic, attitudes toward just how serious coronavirus might be have evolved considerably, in many cases because what initially seemed like a nebulous issue took on much greater depth when it impacted a close family member or friend.

Vaccine hold-outs have been a topic of concern for the US FDA and CDC since progress began to be made on the drugs. Skepticism both of COVID-19 specifically, and of immunization in general, has become more vocal, both in the US and abroad, and the Food and Drug Administration has been particularly transparent about its processes this time around, in an apparent attempt to curtail at least some of that reticence.

In mid-March, the Biden Administration announced that it had hit its 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses goal in 58 days, well ahead of the original 100 day target. By May, President Biden has committed, there will be enough COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in the US who is medically eligible to receive one.


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