Google Chrome’s ‘The web is what you make of it’ campaign plays with the conventional semiotics of time to communicate its enduring value. The ‘Dear Hollie’ spot is perhaps the clearest example of this.
The ad seamlessly blends two usually separated themes: nostalgia and modernity. “Dad” sets up an email address, email@example.com, and begins sending newborn daughter Hollie emails including pictures and video of her development over a seven-year period.
By imagining future Dad looking back to a present that is constantly evolving, the ad plays with time, showing Gmail as part of the (sentimental) past, the (immediate) present and the (nostalgic) future. In the real world, the present day is by definition not nostalgic, and symbols of modernity like email and social networking have little power to move us in the way birthday candles and baby photos can – symbols not only of the past but of our childhoods. By combining the two sets of codes, Google is charging its present-day product with nostalgic emotional power.
The ad also uses a third temporal perspective, by bringing together a series of moments from a long time period into a very short spot. In doing so, it codes online communication – and Google – not as transient or disposable, but as cumulative and durable. It implies Google is here to stay, a brand beyond time.
Watch the full ad at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5NKYKE6U2c.