Apple's Grammy ads were all about Apple. Google's was about the rest of us

I admit, I still have no idea what a Despacito is. I can't tell if Khalid is a DJ or just a regular dude. The line blurs between SZA and Sia (though they both kick some serious ass) and Pink looked exceptionally blonde to me. (Those high notes, though.)

I'm a nearly 40-year-old white guy. The Grammys maybe aren't for me anymore. (My pre-teen daughter loved it though, and that's more than good enough.)

So I sort of approach it like a casual football fan on Super Bowl Sunday. While I can (and do) appreciate the music that isn't part of my daily playlist (if you haven't spun the Childish Gambino record yet, though, you need to Rich Purnell your ass to Mars and get out of my orbit), I also sort of pay more attention to the commercials than I might otherwise.

Apple had a couple of Animoji spots that were downright fun. An alien head Animojiing to Gambino was perfect. The unicorns gave it just the right amount of tripped out WTF. It was the perfect contrast to the otherwise buttoned-down Apple.

The Migos spot was messier. Maybe I'm just biased against the poop emoji in general, or that I think their "Middle Fingers" song was bad enough to make my suburban middle-class 14-year-old self wince a little at the forced rebellion. But whatever. Animoji are fun.

I was disappointed to read the fine print that the commercials were "professionally animated" — I very much wanted to picture some very serious Apple folks lip-syncing not-so-seriously into an iPhone X over and over and over, to get the faux-facial ticks just right. Alas, not the case.

But it was Google's spot that really stood out to me.

See more

I missed the very beginning. Didn't even know it was Google's doing, though I started to wonder once I saw all the bokeh in the photos. (Portrait mode in effect.) And then the phone number on the Google Play Music-style screen gave it away.

But it was the people who stood out. The stories. And, of course, the kicker.

It was reminiscent of the excellent "Be Together. Not the Same." campaign from a few years ago.

The more cynical among us might think that Google only did a suicide prevention spot because of the Logan Paul backlash. And that's probably not wrong. But it's also the right message at the right time, given the suicides in the music industry over the past year, to say nothing of the 100-plus people in the U.S. who take their own lives every day. And with the popularity of the "1-800-273-8255" suicide prevention song, which also was performed live Sunday night with Best New Artist nominee Khalid and eventual winner Alessia Cara.

So I'll forgive Google for maybe being opportunistic. Worse would have been to have ignored the opportunity altogether and instead focus only on itself. One tech company had already done that Sunday evening.

It's not complete redemption for the black hole of decency that is Logan Paul and his ilk. But it's a start. And it was the right thing to do.

But now, Google, we need to talk about Linus.

Phil Nickinson
  • That Google commercial was amazing. Apple should be taking notes.
  • I completely agree that the Google commercial was fantastic. Gave me chills, actually. While Apple is out their tooting their own horn. Even if it was in response to Logan Paul being an utterly garbage human being, it was still the right message. Especially when their direct competition was out puffing their own chest. I absolutely love seeing stuff like this and it makes me feel slightly better about humanity.
  • It was an ad in reaction to a controversy... they do puffing their chezt ads too...
  • I have a lot of respect for Google doing that, that was so good and necessary!
  • If have a lot more respect for Google of they introduced an approval scheme that videos had to pass before they became live on YouTube. Yes I know it would be a mammoth task, but they make billions out of YouTube, they can afford to invest some of this in regulating YouTube.
  • Those two ads had nithing to do in common at all. The google ad deserved an article on its own, given the topic... why pit it next to an animoji ad?! It’s not very relevant... but it’s an opportunity for AC to bash apple for free
  • It's not very relevant.. then maybe apple should stop pushing animoji commercials. They aren't very relevant.
  • That is one incredibly obnoxious kiwi fruit... Google's advert definitely illustrates how vacuous it is... And it's not like they haven't got their own dumb but fun things they could have highlighted in stuff like AR stickers. Cynical as I am, I'm not sure it was directly related to that arse and his general disrespect of everyone, highlighted in videos about Japan. Most of the furore seems to have died down now, and I'm not sure most normal people even associate Google with YouTube that much... Speaking of normal people, I bet it's Apple's obnoxious kiwi that they're discussing more.
  • I was watching the Royal Rumble so no Grammys for me. Not surprised at Apple at all. All they do is brag about what they do (or copied). Glad Kendrick Lamar cleaned out though!
  • The Apple animoji ads creep me the f-out. Apple makes some damn good phones but their new and original features are all missing the mark imo. But props to Google for that ad...Lord knows, I have been there too.
  • Phil, did you watch the LTT video or just post the title? The video is a legitimate showing of the pilot store with some critiques. The title is view-grabby, but that's the only mildly cringy thing here. In fact, the main reason they're shown is they wanted to see if placing the box of tampons in a different spot in the store and then picking them up again, like someone might do with full hands while shopping, would bamboozle the sensors. I've always enjoyed your op-ed style pieces, but this seems like a hasty snap judgement from someone I usually expect to do his research.
  • Weird. ... Because all I said is "we need to talk about Linus."
  • Huh? You did more than just that. You linked your Tweet where you were talking about the video...
  • Indeed. ... And that said "JFC these people are the worst." That still stands.
  • Care to give a rationale for that, then? Because it still seems like you're just pulling the title of their video and saying they're awful people because of using a click-bait style title. If that's your grounds for thinking they're "the worst", I pity the amount of anger you must feel about the Internet at large.
  • I do like Phil and usually agree with him on most things. I had to research what you guys were talking about. But I’m with Linus on this. He basically went into detail on how Amazon probably wouldn’t care since they’re saving money on cashiers anyways. Also, how this changes the workforce of 3.5 Million Americans. So, JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!...3.5 million or so are going away soon. This is something I’ve argued about..basically what companies are going to do with those tax cuts. Historically they’ve bought back stocks. Now that Amazon is changing the ‘sphere, they’ll probably use that to innovate and get cheaper labor in the long run. I either get onboard or get left behind by companies like Amazon.
  • lol. Yeah, the internet kinda sucks, too. =D
  • I saw the app ad and was like ...WTF is that! I missed google ad though.
  • Apparently even the ads aren't for me anymore. I had to Google all the references. I tend to miss all the internet controversies.